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In directive, Florida elections chief declares it a “year of apportionment,” freeing up state Senate campaigns

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

In an announcement that will only further shake up campaign machinations across the state, Secretary of State Ken Detzner has issued a directive declaring 2016 a “year of apportionment.”

That means all candidates for the Senate – including those set to term out in 2018 – can continue to collect campaign funds and collect petitions across the state, not just the district for which they are running.

“[W]hile state senate candidates seeking 2016 ballot placement will be running for office based on newly drawn district lines, such candidates may not know in a sufficiently timely manner from which voters they may obtain petition signatures or how many signatures they must obtain,” wrote Detzner.

“Therefore, I conclude that the provisions in the Election Code referring to procedures to be followed in a ‘year of apportionment’ apply to state Senate candidates for the purpose of qualifying in such races in Florida during the 2016 election cycle.”

The move significantly increases the latitude for quasi-“lame duck” state senators set to term out in 2018 – like Sen. Jack Latvala, who was the first to be accorded the expanded privileges after petitioning the state – to operate politically.

The ruling came in response to county-level supervisors of elections, who made inquiries regarding the looming uncertainty in state Senate elections due to the remedial redistricting lawmakers will undertake in a Special Session slated for October 19 – November 6.

The changes will see district boundaries shift and could spell sitting members gaining extra years of eligibility, depending on how the new districts are numbered.

At present, second-term senators representing even-numbered districts will term out in 2018 while those in odd-numbered districts may serve until 2020.

But Special Session C may just blow senatorial political calculus based on those projections out of the water.

“Redistricting also creates a period of uncertainty for a candidate trying to decide which specifically numbered district he or she might seek to represent, especially in light of the fact that any state senate district that is redrawn, regardless of district number, must be on the ballot in the next general election,” Detzner explained.

The ruling is effective immediately, until such time as it is countermanded by a subsequent directive, law, or final court order.

Ryan Ray writes about campaigns and public policy in Tampa Bay and across the state. A contributor to FloridaPolitics.com and before that, The Florida Squeeze, he covers the Legislature as a member of the Florida Capitol Press Corps and has worked as a staffer on several campaigns. He can be reached at ryan@floridapolitics.com.

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