Republicans express relief over end of Florida Senate leadership fight
There is one common theme in reactions from state legislators about the end of the leadership fight between Joe Negron and Jack Latvala.
Whether they supported Latvala for Florida Senate president or Negron, legislators asked about Latvala conceding the race said it was just good news to have the tension that surrounded the contest finally come to an end after years of hovering over the Legislature. Late Thursday, Latvala, a Clearwater Republican, officially threw in the towel, dropping out of the Senate race and leaving Negron with a clear path to the pivotal leadership post in 2017, the year after current Senate President Andy Gardiner’s term will have expired.
“The healing begins and now we can move forward,” said State Sen. Rob Bradley, a Clay County Republican who had supported Negron. “There were some internal dynamics that were challenging. Those challenges were overcome and we're now moving forward. It's a great day.”
Sen. John Legg, a Pasco County Republican who backed Latvala said it was simply time for the race to end.
“I think he could have dragged it out longer,” Legg said of Latvala. “But I think it would have been destructive to the Republican caucus from this point on out.”
Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, a Fort Myers Republican who backed Negron, said it was just welcome news for so many that the “lingering fight” was finally concluded.
In comments to reporters on Thursday, Latvala acknowledged that the presidency race had become too consuming. He said it bothered him that the race was contributing to a boiling point he said was hitting in the Senate.
“As someone who has made a lot of my life here, that really disturbed me greatly,” said Latvala, who served in the Senate from 1994 to 2002, then came back again in 2010.