Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

New state Senate maps have candidates scrambling

As 2015 ended, news broke that could set off a scramble among Tampa Bay area officeholders and candidates: a judge's decision on new maps for state Senate districts.

A dozen or more politicos and hopefuls have been hovering in uncertainty about what offices to run for and where, depending on where the Senate district lines end up.

The maps still may not be final – there could be an appeal to the Florida Supreme Court. But interested parties are now scrutinizing the new maps, some questioning whether to try for a Senate seat and some wondering if a tempting state House, county commission or even city council seat will be left open by someone else who runs for the Senate.

Here's a speculative look at some situations that could develop as the dominos start to fall:

Flashpoint in East Hillsborough

Local Republicans could come into conflict over a new district covering the area where the corners of Hillsborough, Pasco and Polk counties meet, including Sen. Tom Lee of Brandon, Sen. Wilton Simpson of Trilby and Rep. Shawn Harrison of New Tampa.

Lee, one of Hillsborough's most powerful officeholders, now represents all of East Hillsborough. But the new map extends the district of another Senate leader, Bill Galvano of Bradenton, northward into Hillsborough, putting the two in the same district.

Lee says his current intention is to stay in the Senate representing East Hillsborough. He wouldn't speculate about a primary against Galvano, which likely would be a multi-million dollar donnybrook, and said he could easily move within the county if necessary. He also hinted there are other possibilities without specifying them. In the past, he hasn't ruled out a county commission race.

Meanwhile, Harrison faces a tough re-election in his House district, which leans Democratic in presidential years, and may look at a Senate race as an escape route. However, the new map puts him into the Hillsborough-Pasco-Polk district, the same one Lee might move into.

But that district could also be an escape route for Simpson, whom the new map puts into the same district with Sen. John Legg, R-New Port Richey.

Possible fight in South Tampa

The map presents Rep. Dana Young, R-Tampa, with what she called "a beautiful opportunity" -- a Senate district that includes her South Tampa base, where she is politically dominant. Young said she's seriously interested in running in the district if the map holds up.

But she could face a strong opponent in Rep. Janet Cruz, whose political base also is within the district.

Cruz has been telling friends recently that she intends to stay in the House and concentrate on her post as minority leader, raising campaign cash for other House Dems. But her daughter, Democratic political consultant Ana Cruz, said Thursday that since the maps appeared, influential Democrats have been trying to talk her mother into the race, and she's not ruling it out.

With a heavy concentration of minority voters in Town 'N' Country, "It's a great seat for a Democrat, particularly a Hispanic," and includes all of Cruz's current House district, Ana Cruz said.

No help for Narain

Democratic Rep. Ed Narain of Tampa has been interested in the minority-access Senate seat based in Tampa, now held by term-limited Arthenia Joyner, but the new map didn't configure the district as he wanted – it still crosses the bay to take in part of southern St. Petersburg. That means Narain would face a primary against state Rep. Darryl Rousson, who has already filed, along with Tampa state Rep. Betty Reed.

County commission repercussions

Insiders have speculated that Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman, a former legislator who faces a primary opponent and opposition from some tea partiers in her commission seat, could look to the Senate.

In an interview, Murman was skeptical about that but didn't rule it out. "I never rule anything out," she said.

But if that happened, she would also look at the South Tampa-based Senate seat, and Murman said she's friends with Young and not eager to run against her.

If Murman did leave her District 1 county commission seat open to run for the Senate – or even if she didn't – some local Dems hope for a serious challenger there.

Former Plant City Mayor John Dicks is considering entering the already-crowded, countywide District 6 Democratic primary, and has been asked about challenging Murman instead.

Dicks said that's a good idea for some other Democrat, but not him – he said he's the only Democrat who can get votes in East Hillsborough, the Democrats' weak spot in a countywide race. "I have heard others may be considering it, but not me," he said.

Bylaw interferes with Democrats' plan to replace party chairman

The plan by Hillsborough County Democrats to replace Elizabeth Belcher with Mark Hanisee as chairman has hit a snag because of a state party bylaw nobody knew about.

Hanisee, former Pinellas County party chairman, was expected to replace Belcher, who resigned as Hillsborough chair last month. Hanisee was to become a member of the local executive committee at the Jan. 11 meeting, then run for chairman. Only committee members can run for party offices.

However, said first vice chair Ione Townsend, the party bylaws say when a chairman steps down, executive committee membership is frozen until the next election of officers, so membership rolls can't be padded for the election.

Townsend said she'll run for chairman, and Hanisee said she's the frontrunner. Alvin Wolfe and Michael Newett are also running.

Hanisee said he'll remain in his role as executive director of the party, devoted mainly to fundraising.

New state Senate maps have candidates scrambling 12/31/15 [Last modified: Thursday, December 31, 2015 5:16pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Senate to take up AUMF debate as Trump defends reaction to Niger attack

    World

    WASHINGTON — The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is taking up a long-awaited debate about authorizing military force against the Islamic State as President Trump comes under unprecedented public scrutiny for his treatment of dead soldiers' families, following an ambush on troops helping to fight Islamic …

  2. In fear and vigilance, a Tampa neighborhood holds its breath

    K12

    TAMPA — There was a time, not long ago, when Wayne Capaz would go for a stroll at night and Christina Rodriguez would shop whenever she wanted. Michael Fuller would go to his night job as a line cook, not too worried about his wife at home.

    More than 50 people gathered and walked in the Southeast Seminole Heights community Friday to pay respects to the victims of three shootings. The crowd took a moment of silence at the corner of 11th Street and East New Orleans where Monica Hoffa was found dead. [JONATHAN CAPRIEL  |  Times]
  3. Fennelly: What's not to like about Lightning's start?

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — No one is engraving the Stanley Cup. No one has begun stuffing the league MVP ballot box for Nikita Kucherov.

    The Lightning, with a win tonight, would match the best start in franchise history, 7-1-1 in the 2003-04 Cup season.
  4. Study: Pollution kills 9 million a year, costs $4.6 trillion

    World

    NEW DELHI — Environmental pollution — from filthy air to contaminated water — is killing more people every year than all war and violence in the world. More than smoking, hunger or natural disasters. More than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined.

    New Delhi’s landmark India Gate, a war memorial, is engulfed in morning smog on Friday.
  5. Quarterback Jameis Winston will start Sunday for the Bucs

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Jameis Winston hadn't thrown in practice since he injured his right shoulder in Sunday's loss at Arizona, and with that uncertainty, a wide line of TV cameras and reporters' cellphones were all out Friday morning, recording the moment as Winston tested his shoulder with his first throws early in …

    Despite a sore shoulder, Jameis Winston will be making his 38th consecutive start since being drafted first overall in 2015.