« March 16, 2012 | Main | March 19, 2012 »

7 posts from March 17, 2012

March 17, 2012

March madness: Senate maps open floodgates of new contestants

As the Florida Senate scrambles to redraw its redistricting map before the 15-day buzzer, the field of potential candidates keeps widening.

Take Saturday's speculation that, in addition to former Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla, Rep. Erik Fresen may be ready to jump into the Hispanic-heavy district now held by Sen. Gwen Margolis, a Miami Democrat. That followed news last week that Alex, who was succeeded by his older brother Miguel Diaz de la Portilla in 2010, wanted to return to the Senate in an adjacent district.

The new Senate map released Saturday by Senate Redistricting Chairman Don Gaetz also prompted an official announcement from state Rep. Joe Abruzzo, D-Wellington, that he'll run for the new District 27 in Palm Beach County.

Rep. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, and Rep. Mack Bernard, D-West Palm Beach, also told the Palm Beach Post they are also considering running for the new District 29, a coalition district that is 24 percent black, 26 percent Hispanic.

Continue reading "March madness: Senate maps open floodgates of new contestants" »

Gay Republican activist quits Miami-Dade GOP

Our sister blog, Steve Rothaus' Gay South Florida, is reporting that the Miami-Dade Republican Party -- whose chairman, state Rep. Erik Fresen, is mulling over stepping down -- is losing an openly gay member, Brian Gaither:

Posted to Facebook by gay (former) GOP activist Brian Gaither of Miami:

Republican No More

March 14, 2012.

The Republican Party claims to support the principles of  limited government, individual liberty, fiscal discipline, a strong national defense, and civic virtue. It is a claim many believe, and for most of my life I was a believer.

Since 2008 I have been involved with the Republican Party of Miami-Dade, first as a volunteer then as elected District Committeeman, Chairman of the Voter Registration Committee, and Chairman of the Victory 2012 Committee. During this time I have spent many hours considering the best way to defeat Democrats. I was confident that to do so was in the best interests of Florida and of the country. But now I have to say, “oops!”

More here.

Analysis shows Senate gives up one R seat to Ds, retains majority with at least 23

According to a Herald/Times analysis of voting data in the 2008 and 2010 elections, the map proposed by Senate Redistricting Chairman Don Gaetz  would continue a strong Republican majority in the 40-member chamber but relinquish one more seat to Democrats than the first map rejected by the Florida Supreme Court.

Under Gaetz's plan, the Senate would have 23 Republican-leaning districts and 15 Democrat-leaning seats, up from the current 12 seats now held by the minority party. Another two seats, District 8 in Central Florida, and District 17 in Pinellas, would be competitive. District 8 is the district Republican Rep. Dorothy Hukill of Port Orange is seeking and her likely opponent is Frank Bruno, the chairman of the Volusia County Commission.

District 17 is the seat now held by Sen. Jack Latvala, a Clearwater Republican who has been engaged in the leadership fight mounted against Sen. Andy Gardiner last month by Gaetz allies, Sen. John Thrasher and Sen. Joe Negron.  

Continue reading "Analysis shows Senate gives up one R seat to Ds, retains majority with at least 23" »

Gaetz says Senate will conduct a lottery on the floor for new district numbers

In a letter to senators Saturday, Sen. Don Gaetz said his proposed redistricting rewrite assigns temporary numbers to the districts and describes an elaborate process by which the new numbers will be chosen.

Because the numbering of the districts will determine whether senators will serve a two-year or a four-year term after this year's elections -- potentially allowing some to exceed the eight-year term limit -- Gaetz said they will be assigned new districts numbers randomly on the Senate floor "by neutral, independent party." Download Gaetz memo 317

Scott Arceneaux, executive director of the Florida Democratic Party called the idea "ridiculous."

"They have the political backbone of a chocolate eclair,'' he said. "they cout said you can't give senators 10-year terms and no one wants to stand up to senators and tell them they can't get 10-year terms. How hard is that? Apparently pretty hard."

Gaetz defended his map as a constitutionally sound remedy to the defects found by the Florida Supreme Court, specifically relating to Districts 1, 3, 6, 9, 10, 29, 30, and 34.

Continue reading "Gaetz says Senate will conduct a lottery on the floor for new district numbers " »

Rod Smith calls Gaetz's map a stalling tactic to avoid implementing the law

Florida Democratic Party Chairman Rod Smith slammed Senate Redistricting Chairman Don Gaetz Saturday for submitting a flawed fix to the chamber's rejected map in an attempt to stall the implementation of the new redistricting rules.

"As they have since Florida voters passed Amendments 5 and 6, Republican leadership is fighting Fair Districts tooth and nail, resisting at every turn their duty to draw impartial maps that comply with the law and the will of the people,'' Smith said in a statement.

"The map Sen. Don Gaetz has proposed brings us no closer to complying with the court's ruling and is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt by the GOP Senate leadership to stall the implementation of Fair Districts and cling to their gerrymandered power.  Not only have they thwarted the will of 63-percent of Florida voters,  they are now thumbing their nose at Florida's Supreme Court. It's clear they have no intent to comply with the court's ruling."

Here' is the background from the statement: 

Continue reading "Rod Smith calls Gaetz's map a stalling tactic to avoid implementing the law" »

Gaetz map pits Gardiner and Simmons, Bogdanoff and Sachs against each other

Senate Redistricting Chairman Don Gaetz waded deeply into the Senate Leadership fight with a new map that leaves nearly all of the returning senators protected with the exception of Sen. Andy Gardiner and one of his closest allies, Sen. David Simmons.

According to a Herald/Times analysis, the two Orlando-based Republicans would be forced into the same district in the Gaetz plan. Also forced to run against each other or move is Sen. Maria Sachs, a Delray Beach Democrat, who is now in the same district as Sen. Ellyn Bogdnaoff, a Fort Lauderdale Republican.

The Senate leadership wars pit Gardiner against St. Augustine Republican John Thrasher and Stuart Republican Joe Negron for the 2014 Senate presidency. Gaetz is believed to be a Thrasher ally. Download Gaetz map description

Update: Simmons says he will move to Seminole County, denies the map was intended to influence the Senate leadership fight, claims that Thrasher has now conceded to Gardiner, and tells the Herald/Times that "the 2014 Senate presidency race is over." As for the 2016 fight between Sen. Jack Latvala and either Thrasher or Negron, that race is still a hot potato.

Gaetz's map continues to split Okaloosa County horizontally along I-10, except for the
city of Crestview, which is folded into Gaetz' District 3 to the south. He avoids a head-to-head match-up with Sen. Greg Evers', who also lives in Okaloosa County but remains in the District 1 seat that now includes all of Escambia County.

Continue reading "Gaetz map pits Gardiner and Simmons, Bogdanoff and Sachs against each other" »

Gaetz releases his proposed Senate redistricting fix

The Florida Senate on Saturday released its first attempt at fixing its rejected Senate redistricting map with a proposal that appears to reconfigure districts in a such a way that top Senate leaders remain protected in their homes districts. (Stay tuned here for a complete Herald/Times analysis of the performance and incumbent placement of the proposed districts. We will be making live updates throughout the afternoon.)

The map, released by Senate Redistricting Chairman Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, is a response to a March 9 ruling by the Florida Supreme Court that threw out the Senate map and validated the House map based on the new redistricting standards approved by voters in 2010.  The proposal also seeks to ask the court to invalidate individual districts if it sees future problems, but allow the rest of the map go forward.

Gaetz's plan addresses the court's criticism of his district, by keeping Escambia County whole but it also includes an odd-shaped leg into Crestview to pick up voters for his district. The proposal, however, leaves the numbering system in place that the court said showed bias towards incumbents.

Continue reading "Gaetz releases his proposed Senate redistricting fix" »