As you may imagine, I have a lot to say about the prospect of my friends Jeff Brandes and Jack Latvala facing-off for a seat in the Florida Senate. I’ll try to offer some analysis later today or tomorrow, in the meantime, consider the following.
Think back a couple of years…Charlie Justice is safely ensconced in the Florida Senate…Jack Latvala is enjoying semi-retirement on the Steinhatchee.
Then, lightning strikes.
Charlie Justice decides to abandon his relatively safe seat in the Florida Senate for a quixotic congressional campaign, creating a vacuum in Pinellas and Tallahassee.
Politics, like nature, abhors a vacuum, so Latvala rushes to fill the void left by Justice. Despite only nominal opposition, Latvala dots every ‘i’ and crosses every ‘t’ on his way to winning his election in 2010. Meanwhile, Charlie Justice loses handily to Congressman Bill Young.
From there, the ‘dark star’ explodes, dominating the Florida Senate and local politics. He stares down Mike Haridopolos. The Tampa Bay Times’ Howard Troxler expresses his affection. He vies for the Senate Presidency.
Jack is back!
Now, Latvala is pushing all of his chips into the middle of the table — putting his Senate career and any chance he has of becoming Senate President on the line — with this gambit against Jeff Brandes.
It’s the stuff of political legend.
But none of it would be happening had Charlie Justice decided to run for re-election in 2010. Had Justice run again, it’s possible Latvala would not even be in the Senate.
Haridopolos and Co. could have had their way on immigration and parent triggers and prison privatization and so on.
Latvala — maybe — would be running now for the seat currently held by the term-limited Dennis Jones. He certainly would not be in line for the Senate Presidency.
It’s all a reminder that elections have consequences, but so do the decisions which lead up to the elections. War does not begin with the firing of the first shot; it begins with the decision to put the soldiers and tanks on a plane or a ship and send them halfway around the world.
Can war be avoided between Brandes and Latvala? I’m not so sure. It looks like the soldiers and tanks have been ordered onto the planes and ships.
Still, no shots have yet to be fired. There’s still time for peace.
In the meantime, Jack Latvala should send Charlie Justice a thank-you card.