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Republican Sen. Grant may be eased out of his home district

If you're worried about job security these days, you probably understand how John Grant feels.

But with a difference: At least you know WHERE you work. Not Grant, the Republican state senator from north Tampa.

That's because Democrats today will propose a set of Senate district lines that would put Grant in an entirely new seat based in Pasco County.

Pasco might be a perfectly nice place, but it's not the Hillsborough-dominated district Grant now represents. The proposal would give a Pasco County candidate a much better shot at winning the seat, several observers said Wednesday.

Grant was taking the news good-humoredly Wednesday. His current district includes part of Pasco, and he thinks he is a good candidate there. It's just part of the fun and games of reapportionment, he said. The new district was fashioned to include just enough of Hillsborough County to capture Grant's north Tampa residence.

"They've kind of flip-flopped me," Grant said.

Did Grant do something to make Democrats single him out?

Nah. Democrats are creating potential political problems for lots of Republicans in their new plan. In the funhouse of reapportionment, lines get stretched all over the state to suit each party's needs.

In fact, Grant probably should be thankful to have a district at all in the Democratic plan. The Democrats want to place two sets of Republican senators together in the same district _ state Sens. Toni Jennings and Rich Crotty of Orlando in one district, and Sens. Locke Burt and Bill Bankhead of northeast Florida in another.

Republicans plan to counterattack today with their own proposal. It would likely end the careers of several Democratic senators, and give Republicans a majority in the Senate. Democrats currently have a 22-18 edge.

As they have throughout the reapportionment process this year, Republicans are emphasizing the federal Voting Rights Act, which requires minority communities to be kept together wherever possible. One Republican-sponsored black district would link predominantly black neighborhoods in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Manatee County. It would lump together two white Tampa Bay Democratic incumbents _ Sens. Jeanne Malchon and Helen Gordon Davis.

Another proposed district would threaten the future of Sen. Pat Thomas, D-Quincy, a veteran North Florida incumbent who is in line to be Senate president after November. The Republican-sponsored plan would create a black district running from the Panhandle to Gainesville and Ocala.

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