For 20 senators, it's almost that time again already
The 2012 election campaign may have just ended, but for half of the members of the Florida Senate, it will soon be time to reload and run again. That's because 20 senators who received two-year terms in the new reapportionment plan face re-election in 2014. The two-year anomaly occurs only in a once-a-decade redistricting year, to maintain the constitutional requirement for staggered Senate terms.
Every senator in an even-numbered district received a two-year term in 2012. Those who were just elected for the first time will be eligible to serve for 10 years, through 2022, if they subsequently win re-election to two additional four-year terms in 2014 and 2018.
The district numbers were randomly assigned to Senate districts last March. The Senate secretary drew balls from a basket in a drawing similar to a lottery.
Sixteen of the 20 senators who will face voters in 2014 are Republicans, including five from Tampa Bay (in bold italics). They are Greg Evers, Aaron Bean, John Thrasher, Dorothy Hukill, David Simmons, Thad Altman, Wilton Simpson, Jack Latvala, Jeff Brandes, Tom Lee, Bill Galvano, Nancy Detert, Lizbeth Benacquisto, Joe Negron, Rene Garcia and Miguel Diaz de la Portilla.
Of that group, only Brandes, a St. Petersburg Republican, has opened a re-election campaign account for 2014.
Negron and Thrasher could have the most longevity of all senators in that even-numbered group because both were first elected to fill unexpired partial terms in special elections in 2009.
The four Democratic senators who are up for re-election in 2014 are Geraldine Thompson, Darren Soto, Maria Sachs and Oscar Braynon.
Speaking of legislative longevity, the new "Dean" of the Legislature is Democratic Sen. Gwen Margolis, 78, of Coconut Grove, who served six years in the House and is starting her 21st year in the Senate, with one two-year break from 2008-2010.
Margolis was first elected to the House in 1974 -- five years before the current speaker, Rep. Will Weatherford, was born.