TALLAHASSEE — Republican Sen. John Legg of Trinity and his children were all smiles Tuesday for the first-day festivities of the 2016 legislative session. The question is: was it Legg's last opening day?
Legg confirmed Tuesday that he would not under any circumstances run against fellow Republican Sen. Wilton Simpson of Trilby, who's in line to be Senate president in four years if the GOP keeps its majority of seats. Simpson would be the first Senate president in Pasco history.
"We still are running for office," Legg said. "I will not run against Wilton Simpson. I'll say that definitively. There's lots of things that could happen. We don't know what those things are at this point."
Two potential paths for Legg are to run in another new Senate seat that stretches to the north or to consider the post of Pasco County property appraiser, which will be vacant after November because Mike Wells is not seeking re-election. County Commission Chairman Ted Schrader is already running for the appraiser's post.
As of Oct. 1, 2015, the start of the fiscal year, the salary for Pasco property appraiser stood at $145,796.
The Senate has until Jan. 29 to decide whether to appeal Circuit Judge George Reynolds III's redistricting decision or seek a rehearing. If no appeal is filed, the new maps and numbers will be in place for 2016 and beyond. The Florida Supreme Court is not expected to take any additional action unless an appeal is filed.
Legg said he was on vacation in New York and he was initially confused by the renumbering of Senate districts and the political jockeying that followed, as were others.
"Our mistake was, we allowed other people to talk for us, versus him and I just sitting in a room and us chatting things out," Legg said. "When the numbers popped up, we were like, 'What's happening here?'"
In an interview, Legg, who has five children, sounded a bit weary of all the commuting to and from Tallahassee: He noted that by March, the Legislature will have been in session for parts of 15 of the past 17 months.
"I have other things to do, but we'll work things out," Legg said. "I'm not worried about my future." The property appraiser's job "may be something I'll look at it. I'm not dancing. I'm just not going to look at it until after session."
Legg's legal residence is in Senate District 10, which takes in parts of Pasco and all of Hernando and Citrus counties, where Simpson plans to run.
Legg, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, was elected to the House in 2004 and the Senate in 2012. In seeking another office, Legg would have the support of his long-time friend, Pasco County Tax Collector Mike Fasano.
Contact Steve Bousquet at [email protected] or (850) 224-7263. Follow @stevebousquet.