Latvala proposes new map, strengthens Republican majority; Diaz de la Portilla weighs in
The Florida Senate's Redistricting Committee will meet on Tuesday and discuss at least three competing proposals by Senate Republicans to fix the map rejected by the Florida Supreme Court.
In addition to the map proposed by Redistricting Chairman Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, on Monday filed an alternative proposal that addresses some of the troubles Republicans had with Gaetz's plan. A third map by Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, was also filed to primarily reconfigure several South Florida districts. And amid the infighting between Republicans, the Senate Democrats, who had considered offering an alternative map, did not submit one by Monday's deadline.
Among the changes proposed by Latvala:
* It no longer draws Sen. David Simmons and Sen. Andy Gardiner in the same Orlando-based seat. Latvala has aligned with Gardiner in helping to hoist him into contention for the 2014 Senate president's job and has offered his proposal to help strengthen the map for the Orlando Republican.
Simmons told the Herald/Times on Saturday that he would move to the neighboring Seminole County district to avoid running against Gardiner but Latvala's map would make that unnecessary. However, a question remains: will Latvala's plan pass muster with the court? The court rejected the Senate's original District 8, intended for Gardiner, and the Latvala proposal revives much of the same composition as the rejected seat.
* It strengthens the Republican registration in Central Florida's District 8 (now held by Sen. Steve Oelrich) by moving it into southern Volusia County and reduces the number of minority voters in District 10 (Gardiner) and District 13 (Simmons) by increasing the black majority seat now held by Sen. Gary Siplin.
* Latvala's map strengthens Republican majority in the Senate by creating 24 solid Republican leaning districts, compared to Gaetz's 23. Both create 15 strong Democrat leaning districts. The difference is there is only one swing district -- Latvala's District 17 -- in his map, instead of two as in Gaetz's map. The first Senate map, rejected by the court, also had 24 Republican-leaning districts, 14 Democrat-leaning district and two swing districts.
* It creates 12 minority-majority districts but, compared to Gaetz's map, changes the composition of three of them in Central Florida:
A late map submitted by Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla of Miami strengthens the Hispanic registration in District 35, now held by Sen. Gwen Margolis, a Miami Democrat. Miguel's brother, former state Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla, has announced he will run against Margolis. Members of the Miami Dade delegation are aggressively lobbying for a fourth Hispanic seat in Miami Dade.
Diaz de la Portilla's map also appears to keep Sen. Maria Sachs in the same district as Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff but both senators barely live in the district, which is more favorable to Bogdanoff than either Gaetz or Latvala's plans. Sachs is two blocks away from being in Democrat-friendly District 27 instead of District 29 with Bogdanoff. The line is almost drawn around her house. Bogdanoff is also just a long block from being in Ft. Lauderdale's neighboring District 34.
Under the Diaz de La Portilla plan, there would be 22 solid Republican-leaning seats, 15 Democrat-leaning districts and three swing districts.
Under both Latvala and Gaetz's plans, District 35 would have a Hispanic voting age population of 49 percent, up to 50 percent if black Hispanics are included. Under Diaz de la Portilla's proposal, that district would jump to 66 percent Hispanic.
-- Darla Cameron and Mary Ellen Klas