A race for a legislative leadership post to be held several years from now is, admittedly, not the easiest of stories to cover. But it is an important story which should be taken seriously by every political editor and reporter. After all, how can you write about the sausage-making that is the legislative process if you don’t really know what’s in the sausage?
For the most part, the coverage of this kind of palace intrigue has been diligent, but also mostly reactive. (How many times did the Times/Herald prematurely report that Andy Gardiner had the race locked-up only for an on-the-ground development to come along and change things?)
Unfortunately, there has been a lot of unnecessary misreporting about the rivalry between Jack Latvala and John Thrasher. Latvala is seeking to be Senate President after Don Gaetz and Andy Gardiner. It had been reported that Thrasher was opposing Latvala, although I was hard-pressed to find much evidence of Thrasher campaigning for the job.
“I don’t have a pledge card,” Thrasher said to Matt Dixon. “I have not been going out and trying to get support.”
This morning, I myself was guilty of viewing the race through the Latvala vs. Thrasher prism.
It’s easier for the media to describe the race in binary terms. If you’re not for Latvala, you’re for Thrasher. And vice versa. This has happened time and time again.
For example, because Jeff Brandes is running for the Florida Senate, he must be doing so because John Thrasher put him up to it. This, despite the fact Brandes will tell you he’s only spoken once to anyone in Thrasher’s camp.
Because John Legg is committed to Jack Latvala for Senate President, that must have meant Wilton Simpson, who had been on the other side of Legg until Legg switched races, was with John Thrasher, right? Not necessarily.
As today’s developments prove, the race for the Senate Presidency is chess, not checkers.
Maybe even three-dimensional chess.