Senate President Joe Negron on Wednesday announced he will resign in November, an early retirement he pegged to term limits.
He had two years left.
Negron's announcement Wednesday was not entirely a surprise.
The 56-year-old Stuart lawyer announced after the legislative session concluded in March that he would consider other political options.
"It was a decision I anticipated could be made," said Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, who will replace Negron as Senate president in November if Republicans keep a Senate majority. "I was not surprised. It does mean we have a race in November that has been a steadily Republican district for us."
The district is in Martin and St. Lucie counties and part of Palm Beach.
Galvano said he has not begun recruiting candidates to replace Negron, and he declined to estimate how much money it will take to mount an effective campaign for the seat.
Negron's departure, after a 15-year career in the Senate and House, could complicate Republicans' efforts to keep a strong majority in the 40-member Senate in a year in which there have been repeated predictions of a midterm "blue wave" rejection of President Donald J. Trump that favors Democrats.
The Senate is currently made up of 23 Republicans and 17 Democrats.
One seat in Pinellas is vacant because of Jack Latvala's resignation in December.
Negron clinched the Senate presidency in 2015 after a prolonged four-year battle with Latvala.
Two seats could prove difficult for the GOP to keep: a Tampa-based seat held by Republican Dana Young and an open Miami-Dade seat where the Republican candidate is Rep. Manny Diaz of Hialeah.
Open seats are harder to defend if Democrats field a strong candidate, and they usually cost more money.
Of the 20 Senate seats up for grabs in Florida in the fall election, 13 are held by Republicans and seven are held by Democrats.
With two years left in his term, it would have been unusual, but not unprecedented, for Negron to remain in the Senate. (Former Senate President Don Gaetz served an extra two years after his presidency ended in 2016).