Jack Latvala concedes Senate presidency fight as votes for Senate map remain short
After creating fierce coalition that appears to have effectively blocked a redrawn redistricting map in the Senate, Sen. Jack Latvala conceded Thursday that he would no longer be pursuing the Senate presidency but will become the powerful chairman of the Appropriations Committee under Sen. Joe Negron.
The deal put an end to a fierce two-year battle between the two that has led to personal infighting and what some senators have complained has been among the most disruptive periods in recent Senate history.
Latvala, a Clearwater Republican is among the moderates in the increasingly conservative chamber, while Negron, a Stuart Republican is considered more conservative and has the support of the incoming House leadership.
"This is good for the Senate to have this resolved," said Nancy Detert, R-Sarasota, a Latvala supporter.
"This is a great day," said Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, a Negron supporter as she as Sen. Joe Negron, entered the Senate chamber to vote on a House redistricting bill. Negron said he would talk after the session.
Latvala, however, would not talk about it. Asked if he could confirm the news as he entered the Senate chamber to vote on the Senate map at 4 p.m., he told the Herald/Times "I cannot confirm." Minutes later, his paid political consultant, Peter Schorsch, sent out a Tweet that Latvala would be supporting Negron.
Twenty minutes after that, Negron's political committee sent out a press release acknowledging that Latvala has "signed a pledge card" to support Negron, who will be designated during a session on Dec. 2.
"The leadership race in the Florida Senate is over,'' Negron said in a statement. "Sen. Latvala has requested that his supporters in the Senate and in open seats support Sen. Negron to serve as Senate President in the 2017-18 term...The Senate is comprised of 40 strong, independent voices and I will ensure that every Senator is heard.”
Latvala said the statement the he and Negron "are focused on moving the Republican Caucus forward in a unified manner."