Sens. Jack Latvala, Miguel Diaz de la Portilla file competing redistricting maps

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A pair of Republican senators filed alternative redistricting plans Monday to the one sponsored by Senate Reapportionment Chairman Don Gaetz, setting up a potential intraparty battle over the future of the chamber, reports Brandon Larrabee of the News Service of Florida.The maps, by Sens. Jack Latvala of Clearwater and Miguel Diaz de la Portilla of Miami, would have the effect of helping allies — even though to do so intentionally would be a violation of the anti-gerrymandering Fair Districts standards approved by voters in a November 2010 referendum.

One of the major changes in Latvala’s map would be to keep Senate Majority Leader Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, and Sen. David Simmons, R-Maitland, in separate districts. The Florida Supreme Court sharply criticized “an odd-shaped appendage” springing from one Central Florida district that appeared aimed at keeping the two from facing each other.

Latvala’s plan would shift surrounding districts to make the appendage shorter and less pronounced. The Clearwater senator is an ally of Gardiner in Gardiner’s bid to become Senate president in 2014, reportedly in return for Latvala assuming the office in 2016, and Simmons is also a Gardiner supporter.

Diaz de la Portilla’s plan, meanwhile, would shift the lines of Senate District 35 — where his brother, Alex Diaz de la Portilla, has filed to run. The district is currently represented by Democratic Sen. Gwen Margolis of North Miami Beach, though she could end up in another district under Diaz de la Portilla’s plan. The lines would slice North Miami Beach in two.That map would increase the Hispanic voting-age population of District 35 to 66.2 percent when black Hispanics are factored out — an increase from the Gaetz plan, which puts the district at a shade less than 49 percent non-black Hispanics in voting-age population.

It would also go from a district that Democrat Alex Sink carried by almost 21 percent in the gubernatorial election to one Sink carried by almost 7 percent.

One issue for Diaz de la Portilla’s plan is that it appears to have districts that are not contiguous and would not assign all of the state’s population to a district. Any redistricting plan in Florida would have to consist of 40 contiguous districts and could not leave out any portion of the state.

Neither Latvala or Diaz de la Portilla returned calls Monday seeking comment on their plans.

The Senate Reapportionment Committee is set to meet Tuesday and approve a plan for the full Senate to consider by the end of the week. The House would take up that map next week.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, 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.