Hundreds of thousands in Bay area get new state senators under redistricting plan
Hundreds of thousands of people in South Tampa, around Largo in Pinellas County and northern Sarasota counties would get new state senators under a redistricting plan that could be voted out of a key Senate committee as early as Friday.
Under the new map:
- 100,000 people in South Tampa would no longer be represented by Pinellas County Republican Jeff Brandes. Instead, they would be in a new state senate district currently held by Pasco County Republican John Legg.
- 154,000 people in northern Sarasota County, including most of Siesta Key, would go from a district currently held by Venice Republican Nancy Detert to one now represented by Sen. Bill Galvano, a Bradenton Republican who is the chairman of the Senate redistrict committee.
- And 100,000 people around the Largo area in Pinellas county would shift from being in a district represented by Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, to one held by Brandes.
The map has other big changes, shifting about 50,000 people in southern Hillsborough County, including part of Sun City Center from a district held by Galvano to mostly Brandon Republican Sen. Tom Lee’s 24th District. In Pasco County, 90,000 people around New Port Richey would shift from a district held by Pasco Republican Wilton Simpson to Latvala’s district. And 40,000 people in a heavily Democratic areas of Bradenton would shift from being represented by State Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, to being represented by Galvano.
The proposed map would have big implications for one state senate race. State Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, is not seeking re-election, which has opened her Sarasota based seat up to an open battle to see who will replace her in 2016. But the way her District 28 seat is drawn, two favorites in the race would be drawn out of the district. Sarasota County Commissioner Nora Patterson and current State Rep. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, would both have homes in Galvano’s district under the plan Galvano is presenting to the Senate redistricting committee on Friday. It would leave former State Rep. Doug Holder, R-Venice, as the only candidate currently residing in the district.
The redistricting plan is still a long way from becoming law. If it is approved by the Senate Redistricting Committee, it still needs a full vote of the Senate to pass, and then clear the Florida House. Even after all of that, the plan will have to be approved by the courts.
Redistricting of state senate lines is typically done immediately following the federal census. But Florida legislators have been forced to redraw districts this year because the lines approved in 2012 were ruled unconstitutional because they were drawn with the intent to favor incumbents and political parties.