New legislative maps to spur changes to Hillsborough legislative delegation

Some lawmakers could face races against fellow legislators.
Jackie Toledo
Jackie Toledo [ Provided ]
Published Feb. 11, 2022|Updated Feb. 11, 2022

The newly adopted district maps for state legislators could produce some political turmoil in the 2022 campaigns in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, possibly affecting the political plans of state Rep. Jackie Toledo, R-Tampa.

In the state House, the new maps throw incumbent state House members in Hillsborough into the same district in two cases — but it’s possible those incumbents won’t end up facing off.

The maps put Rep. Fentrice Driskell, a Democratic rising star, into the same Republican-leaning, northwest Hillsborough district as freshman Republican Rep. Traci Koster.

But Driskell could move a short distance into a new North Tampa district that’s Democratic-leaning and politically similar to her current district.

Driskell, who currently rents her home, wouldn’t comment on her plans, citing a desire to keep political considerations out of the districting process.

Likewise, the new maps put Democratic Rep. Andrew Learned of Brandon and Republican Rep. Mike Beltran of Lithia into the same southeast Hillsborough district, a swing territory with a small Republican voting advantage in past presidential races.

Learned said he intends to stay put, but Beltran said he intends to file in a new, strongly GOP-leaning southeast Hillsborough district that overlaps much of his current district, including Sun City Center.

Meanwhile, Toledo’s South Tampa-based district becomes slightly more Democratic under the new maps. It shifts from a razor-edge swing seat where Joe Biden won by less than 1 percent to one covering territory where Biden won by four points.

Toledo has won the district by larger margins over prominent Democratic challengers since 2016, but is said to have her eye on challenging either state Democratic Sen. Janet Cruz or U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa.

The district changes could provide incentive for that, but Toledo didn’t respond to voice and text messages for comment.

Cruz’s Douth Tampa-based district shifts from territory with a narrow Democratic advantage where Biden won by 3 points to a slightly greater Democratic advantage of about 4 points.

The future of Castor’s heavily Democratic, Tampa-based district is unsettled as a final congressional plan has not been set, but it could become a swing district.

In Pinellas, most of the changes in the House map don’t appear likely to affect partisan control of the districts.

For example, the open seat being vacated by Rep. Ben Diamond, D-St. Petersburg, will become slightly more Democratic; and the southeastern Pinellas swing district now held by Rep. Linda Chaney, R-St. Pete Beach, will become slightly more Republican.

State Rep. Nick DiCeglie, R-Indian Rocks Beach, plans to run for the south Pinellas Senate seat being vacated by Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes. Brandes’s district, which voted for Trump by 6 points, becomes slightly more Democratic under the new map but still leans Republican.