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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Sen. Nancy Detert won't run for reelection in 2016



Sen. Nancy Detert will step down from the Legislature in 2016, confirming speculation that she will instead seek a seat on the Sarasota County Commission.

The decision, reported Thursday evening by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, means that the Venice Republican will leave the Legislature two years before she faces term limits in 2018. But it’s a move that’s been widely anticipated as three Republicans are already vying to take her place: former Sarasota mayor Nora Patterson, Rep. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, and former Rep. Doug Holder, R-Osprey. Rep. Ray Pilon was in the mix as well but decided to seek another term in the House instead.

Detert’s decision not to run in 2016 plays into an already volatile power struggle as Sens. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, and Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, battle for the Senate presidency in 2016-2018. Detert has long been a staunch Latvala ally.

Negron announced last month that he has enough pledged votes to be president. But the whole race will be upended by the Senate redistricting special session next month and other sitting lawmakers’ decisions to step out of the race. Holder said he has signed a pledge card for Negron "some time ago" and expects "a very competitive race" with Patterson, whom he has worked with and considers a friend. Steube would support Negron, as well.

"We have very different political views and about the direction of where the Republican Party should go,'' Holder said. 

Patterson's allegiances are unknown. Although Latvala said Thursday night he will not confirm which candidates have pledged their votes to him, he is throwing his support behind Patterson in the race to replace Detert.

Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, says Detert stepping down is a likely point in the Negron column. Senate leadership has scheduled a presidential designation ceremony for Negron at 2 p.m. on Dec. 2. 

First elected to the Senate in 2008 after an eight-year term in the House from 1998-2006, Detert is an outspoken moderate Republican who supports women’s right to have an abortion and plays an important role in economic development policy. She sits on the board of Enterprise Florida but has been a critic of how the economic-development and jobs agency spends money.

[Last modified: Friday, September 25, 2015 8:26am]


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