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Is Jack Latvala predicting Supreme Court will call for redrawing state Senate seats in 2016?

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Florida’s political world was shaken on Thursday after the state Supreme Court ruled that the GOP-led Legislature had gerrymandered eight congressional districts, and called on the Legislature to remedy the situation before the 2016 election.

Still to come, however, is a court ruling on a separate 2012 lawsuit filed by the League of Women Voters and Common Cause challenging the constitutionality of 28 of the 40 state Senate districts drawn up by the Legislature.

And if one can read the tea leaves from an email issued by Pinellas County state Sen. Jack Latvala on Thursday afternoon, the judiciary may once again rule against the Legislature, creating potential chaos in some legislative races next year.

Latvala was re-elected to his Senate District 20 seat last November, easily defeating Libertarian candidate Tony Caso. It was to be his last four-year term in the Legislature, where he still retains hopes of becoming Senate president in 2017.

But in an email issued to some contributors on Thursday evening obtained by Florida Politics, Latvala is predicting that the court may very well call on a number of Senate districts also to be redrawn, and says he may have to run in a new district in 2016.

“I thought that last November would be my last election for the Senate,” Latvala writes. “However, it becomes apparent that the effort to win even a third set of new Senate districts in the courts is serious and demands our attention. That process will play out in the courtroom over the next several months and if the Supreme Court gets involved could last even until the qualifying period in June. Good preparation has always been the key to my political success. Therefore, I believe I should be prepared for the possibility that new districts may result and that I will have a campaign again in 2016.”

Not only is Latvala predicting that the High Court will be in favor of the League of Women Voters and call on a number of Senate districts to be redrawn, but said that the Florida Division of Elections has permitted him to reopen a campaign account for a 2016 run. “I would appreciate your financial support for that account as we prepare for whatever challenges we might have to face,” he writes.

Potentially the court ruling could very much affect Jeff Brandes’ Senate District 22 seat, which contains a part of South Tampa while residing mostly in southern Pinellas County.

The trial on the Senate maps is slated for September in Leon County Court.

Latvala was among a number of lawmakers and GOP political consultants who received subpoenas from the plaintiffs in the case earlier this year.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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