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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Latvala's concedes Senate presidency, says he want to focus on 'big picture'



Pinellas County will not have its first Senate president in nearly a century after Sen. Jack Latvala announced Thursday that he is giving up his long, protracted battle against Sen. Joe Negron for one of the most powerful positions in Florida.

Latvala, one of the Legislature's most colorful characters known for his blunt and often volatile temperament, acknowledged that the intensity of the three-year battle for the top post in 2017 had reached a boiling point that was hurting the Senate. He told reporters that he has been so consumed in the politics of that race that it was taking time away from public policy issues that he said he was elected to tackle.

"I just felt like it was time to start a new path of working together in the Florida Senate and look at the big picture rather than just look at my own personal picture," said Latvala, a Clearwater Republican who has spent 13 years in the Florida Senate. "I don't look at this with any regret whatsoever. I look at this as the first page of a new book."

Latvala, who turned 64 on Wednesday, won't go away empty handed. In exchange for withdrawing from the race, Negron, a Republican from Stuart, announced he would make Latvala the chairman of the top budget writing committee in the Florida Senate in 2017 when he will be president.

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[Last modified: Thursday, November 5, 2015 10:15pm]


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