Senator 41 chats about redistricting, Latvala vs. Thrasher and the Gaetz conspiracy

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The well-organized Senate redistricting process that produced a bipartisan vote for the first draft of the chamber’s map now appears to be fraying, with Republican infighting prompting the majority to delay a committee vote on the plan that was scheduled for Tuesday.

For insight,  I sat down with “Senator 41″ to discuss what is really going on behind-the-scenes.

Who is “Senator 41,” you ask.  Well, if you don’t know Senator 41, you don’t know one of the most powerful people walking the halls of the Capitol.

Senator 41 represents the 41st District, which you may be difficult to find on a map.  District 41 stretches is comprised of about two city blocks, running the length of Adams Street in Tallahassee.

Senator 41 is, by far, the longest-serving member of the Legislature.  He served with Mallory Horne.  He served with Dempsey Barron.  He has seen everything.  Look up the definition of “institutional knowledge” and you’ll see a picture of Senator 41.

This is not Senator 41’s first time drawing maps.  He was around in 1992 when black Democrats turned their back on their white brethren to make a deal with the Republicans.  He was around when they drew the districts in pencil.

So how does Senator 41 think the process will work out. Keep reading our interview Senator 41 to find out.

SaintPetersBlog: Good evening, Senator, you look a little tired, sir.

Senator 41: It was a long day, son.  And it’s gonna be a long day tomorrow. But, wow, what a show that was put on today.

SaintPetersBlog: I watched it on Florida Channel when I could, but what did I miss?

Senator 41: You got a glimpse of what to expect from the Florida Senate the next two years after Haridopolos has passed the gavel to Don Gaetz.  There was Gaetz in the middle trying to referee between Latvala and Thrasher.  Who wants to be in the middle of that for the next two years?

SaintPetersBlog: You know I’m partial to Jack, but even at that, he seemed like a master at work today.

Senator 41: I watch him and I feel like Paul Newman in ‘The Huster’ just staring at Jackie Gleason work a pool table.  Remember that movie? Remember when Fast Eddie leans over to the crowd and says “Look at that big man. Look at the way he moves. Like a dancer.”

That’s what I think when I see Jack at work.  Look at him. Look at the way he moves. Like a dancer.

SaintPetersBlog: What caught your eye today?

Senator 41: Well, you gotta realize, Jack knew all along that he was going to withdraw his amendment, but he put it out there to show his loyalty to Andy Gardiner by trying to fix the situation with Gardiner and David Simmons running in the same district.

SaintPetersBlog: He also showed up the committee staff?

Senator 41: They deserved to be shown up!  The House’s staff has been setting the agenda on redistricting from the start.  They’ve got all the fancy doohickies over in the House, while we’re using abacuses over here.  No wonder we can’t get the numbering issue right!

SaintPetersBlog: Doohickies, sir?

Senator 41: You know what I am talking about!

SaintPetersBlog: Yes, I do. I’m sorry. Back to Latvala vs. Thrasher…

Senator 41: Well, it’s not like Latvala beat Thrasher. This is all first-round stuff.  All they’re doing right is measuring each other’s jab. The heavier punches may come in the coming days.

SaintPetersBlog: Sir, let me ask you this question: there’s a conspiracy making the rounds that Gaetz sandbagged the first redistricting map; that he drew this first map, despite knowing it would get tossed by the Supreme Court, in order to keep the peace.

Senator 41: See, you are learning.

SaintPetersBlog: So did Gaetz sandbag the first draft?

Senator 41: The better question would be to ask what the Senate, already on the verge of civil war, would have been like had Gaetz drawn a map which would have passed muster with the Supreme Court? Do you think Greg Evers votes for the PIP bill if he’s drawn into the same district as Gaetz? Do you think Gardiner and Simmons support leadership if they’re drawn into the same district.  You think Ellyn Bogdanoff goes along with anything if she knows her district is being erased off the map?

SaintPetersBlog: Of course not.

Senator 41: Look how Gaetz drew JD Alexander’s seat that Denise Grimsley is running in.  While Gaetz needed JD, he kept the district intact.  The moment the budget was finished and the Supreme Court throws out the first map, Gaetz draws Grimsely in with Bill Galvano.

SaintPetersBlog: …which is why Latvala’s map tried to fix that.

Senator 41: That’s how you gain allies, son.

SaintPetersBlog: So how does this end?

Senator 41: We can’t even agree on how to number the seats. Why do you think we will agree on how to draw the seats. I’m sure we’ll pass some sort of map, but the Supreme Court is going to have to do what we won’t.

SaintPetersBlog: And who would you suggest I talk to about what they might do?

Senator 41: My colleague, Justice 8.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.