Mary Ellen Klas puts in writing what everyone has been saying since Tuesday, that Miami State Representative Jose Oliva has won the internecine battle to be Speaker of the Florida House for the 2018-19 legislative sessions.
Because Oliva was a so-called “red shirt” freshman because he took office in a special election, giving him a leg-up over any potential opponent who may have emerged after Tuesday.
Two of those potential opponents, Frank Farkas of St. Petersburg and Alex Diaz de la Portilla of Miami, both lost on Tuesday, clearing the way for Oliva to secure enough pledges from his legislative classmates to follow Will Weatherford, now Steve Crisafulli, and Richard Corcoran as Speaker six years from now.
That is, if the Republicans are able to hold onto power until then. Although Florida Republicans tend to overperform in non-presidential election cycles, I do not see this trend continuing with Rick Scott at the top of the ticket. If Democrats are able to recruit viable candidates in just the seats where Barack Obama won on Tuesday, the GOP’s control of the Florida House could begin to slip away.
As for the Florida Senate, it no longer looks like Pinellas’ Jack Latvala will lead that chamber in 2016-17, as he had hoped.
The Sunshine State News’ Nancy Smith gleefully explains that voters went against two of Latvala’s pledges — Jim Frishe and Mike Weinstein — during the primary. That left Latvala needing a win by Ellyn Bogdanoff in Senate District 34, but that did not occur.
Still, a wounded bear is a dangerous bear. Latvala may not emerge as President Designate anytime soon, but he still knows the mechanics of the Senate better than almost any of his colleagues. He also has most of Florida’s political media on his side. And, don’t forget, Latvala is still one of the two or three most important politicians in Tampa Bay.
There’s also this: 16 of the 20 Florida Senators up for re-election in 2014 are Republicans, like Jeff Brandes, in districts which just went for Barack Obama. The composition of the current Florida Senate is not necessarily the Florida Senate which will be in place in two years.