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PERSONAL AGENDAS COLOR REDISTRICTING

Many in both chambers have a stake in the new legislative maps.

Personal ambitions have been kept off the record in the Legislature's once-a-decade redistricting fight, but the carefully choreographed plan could implode this week if a House committee proposes and accepts changes to the Senate map.

That would put an end to the agreement between the two chambers to accept each other's redistricting maps - and set off a battle that could delay a budget accord.

The Senate map is an immensely personal exercise for many House members who have aspirations of getting elected to the upper chamber. But the Senate mapalso is personal for the 40-member Senate, where 30 of the incumbents - 21 Republicans and 9 Democrats - hope to return next year.

The Senate map leaves "every (sitting) Republican and every (sitting) Democrat in better shape than they are today,'' said Rep. Ron Saunders, the House Democratic leader.

Incoming Senate President Don Gaetz, for example, avoided being matched up with Sen. Greg Evers, a fellow Republican who also happens to live in Okaloosa County. Gaetz lives in Niceville and Evers lives in rural Baker.

By splitting the region horizontally across five counties instead of following the county boundary lines, the Senate gave Gaetz and Evers separate districts. Gaetz said the proposed map is irrelevant because he could move to any of the five counties in his district because he owns property in each of them.

The districts of future Republican Senate president hopefuls Jack Latvala and Andy Gardiner were also aided by the Senate map. Latvala's Pinellas County-based district and Gardiner's Orlando district, which is surrounded by a new Hispanic majority seat, both became more Republican.

The Senate map is also intensely personal for two senators trying to get a relative elected. Democrat Sen. Gary Siplin is eyeing the newly created congressional district in Central Florida while his wife, Victoria Siplin, has filed to run to replace him in the Orlando-based Senate seat.

At least five current and former House members are also seeking state Senate seats and House Speaker Will Weatherford's employer, East Pasco businessman Wilt Simpson, is running for the seat being vacated by Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey.

By late Tuesday, it appeared that the House Redistricting Committee was still on track to approve the Senate map without making changes before its next meeting on Friday. But it wasn't because the House didn't try.

House Democrats had prepared a plan that would have helped Weatherford split his home county of Pasco east to west, instead of north to south. Democrats decided not to offer their proposal as an alternative to the Senate map because Gaetz said he wouldn't accept it, Saunders said.

"Unless you're suicidal, why would you (anger) Don Gaetz?'' he said. "I'm not going to butt heads with him.''

Gaetz said Tuesday that he has spoken with Weatherford once or twice a day since the session began and now expects no tinkering with Senate maps.

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