Making the Tampa Bay region look like a game of Twister, Senate Rules Chairman David Simmons late Thursday filed his own proposed map redrawing the state’s Senate districts.
For instance, Simmons’ map creates a 16th District that takes in about the same area currently represented by GOP state Sen. Jack Latvala of Clearwater, not by jumping the bay, but by bending around it.
It stretches and curves around the water from northern Pinellas County down to south Tampa.
Another district, the 22nd, arcs from central to south Hillsborough County, then jumps over the water to take in Democrat-rich southeast Pinellas. That area is now represented by Senate Democratic Leader Arthenia Joyner.
His 21st district takes in the rest of southern Pinellas, which Republican Jeff Brandes now represents.
Then his 23rd District, comprising GOP state Sen. Tom Lee‘s eastern Hillsborough turf, also bleeds over into the western flank of Polk County.
The Simmons map also makes all of Pasco County one district. The county now is split into two, one held by John Legg, the other by Wilton Simpson, both Republicans.
Simmons, an Altamonte Springs Republican, supports Latvala in the 2017-19 Senate presidency contest between Latvala and Stuart Republican Joe Negron. Brandes supports Negron.
Republicans dominate Democrats in the chamber by 26-14.
The Senate’s redistricting panel meets again Friday, ending the first week of the ongoing three-week Special Session to redraw the state’s 40 senatorial districts.
A count of the chamber’s redistricting Web page shows 19 maps have now been filed, which were drawn by legislators, staff and members of the public.
The session was sparked by a settlement of a court challenge that the current Senate map was gerrymandered to benefit Republicans and incumbents.
The Senate admitted that the map was in fact gerrymandered, or improperly drawn for political purposes.