Sen. Mike Fasano was term-limited and unclear about his political future. Rep. John Legg was locked into a tough primary against Wilton Simpson. Sen. Jim Norman, protected by his guardian angel Jack Latvala, was well on his way to re-election.
Fast-forward to today and look at how much times have changed.
Fasano is on his way to eight years in the Florida House, giving him the last laugh over many of his political enemies. Fasano will serve in the House “under” his protege Richard Corcoran, who will be Speaker in four years and is sure to stock his office with several staffers loyal to both Corcoran AND Fasano.
Legg is now the front-runner for a State Senate seat. In fact, I suggest Legg change his campaign logo to a horseshoe — he’s that lucky! If Jim Norman decided to drop out last Thursday or Friday, it’s likely any number of potential candidates, such as John Grant or his son, Jamie, would have filed for the seat and Legg would have been right back where he was three months ago, locked in a tough primary. Instead, Norman drops out days after qualifying closes and, suddenly, Legg is the darling of the GOP establishment. Just this week, he has been endorsed by Adam Putnam and Will Weatherford.
Wilton Simpson, an ally of Weatherford, is all but a Senator-elect at this point, further bolstering Pasco County’s strength in the Legislature.
As for Weatherford himself, it would have been difficult to imagine that he be able to strengthen his hand any more than it already was at the end of session, but so far, he’s helped negotiate solutions to tough primaries (Coley vs. Drake, Precourt vs. Eisnaugle, Nehr vs. Sprowls), while the “Weatherford Effect” impacts races throughout the state. Would you believe there are projections showing the Republicans expanding their majority in the Florida Legislature? Another question, who was the last Speaker going into the first year of their term with this much momentum?
Together, Corcoran, Fasano, and Weatherford have, albeit informally, created a triumvirate that is
on the verge of dominating huge swaths of Tampa Bay politics.