Who wins and who loses with Jack Latvala ceding in Senate President’s race to Joe Negron

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Jack Latvala spent the better part of this decade angling to become the President othe Florida Senate. On Thursday, Latvala dropped his Ahabian pursuit to become the first Senate President from Pinellas County since John Stansel Taylor of Largo.

The news, first reported by this site, took Tallahassee by surprise, although Latvala’s decision makes perfect sense now that there has been enough time to contemplate what it means for Florida politics.

Over coffee neither of us drank, Latvala told me two months ago that the only way he would abandon his bid is if just got sick and tired of the whole ordeal. Recently married and with his hair just a little longer than usual, Latvala seemed then that he was beginning to come to peace with the idea of making peace.

“It is like a load has been lifted off my shoulders,” Latvala said Thursday and you can believe the senior Senator from Pinellas when he says that.

Keep in mind, it’s not like Latvala is retiring to his summer home in Maine. He is the chairman of the Senate committee in charge of appropriations for transportation and economic development. After that, he will be the Senate’s budget chief for two years. That means he’s got three more legislative sessions where every agency head, lobbyist, college and university, program director, even the governor, has to come ask him for money. In the past, you knew what Latvala’s goal was in the horse-trading. Now we don’t.

Jack Latvala is unbridled. Won’t that be exciting to watch?

Who wins and who loses now that Joe Negron is certain to become Senate President and Latvala will be Appropriations Chairman? Here’s a first draft.


Republican Party of Florida – “Dear Republican Senators — Can you please bring your money back?”

The Florida Senate – From war comes peace. Negron-Galvano-Simpson provides stability through the next decade — right about when the reapportionment process strikes up again.

Anitere Flores – Negron’s chief ally could be the next Majority Leader. A statewide or higher office run from there?

Wilton Simpson – What is it about an egg farmer? There has to be something because both the Negron and Latvala camps credit the Trilby Republican with brokering the deal. Blessed is the peacemaker for in 2018-19, he shall inherit the gavel. Veteran Sen. David Simmons also played a key role.

Jeff Clemens – Latvala’s favorite Democrat should be able to bring home the bacon the next three years.

Sarah Bascom – Let the record reflect that Bascom is the communications adviser for both the House Speaker Designate and the Senate President Designate. Eventually that could prove to be a real balancing act, but for right now, with both Corcoran and Negron on speed dial, Bascom is the go-to comms strategist in Tallahassee.

Blanton & Johnson – Travis Blanton and Jon Johnson played the Negron-Latvala rivalry about as well as any lobbyists, helping Negron, but still donating enough to Latvala to keep the channels open.

Everglades – When I asked a close adviser to Negron what pet project would feel the love from the Senate President’s office the next two or three years, they were very quick with their answer: The Everglades.

Indian River Lagoon – Get use to hearing three letters for the next three years of Negron’s  ascendancy and presidency: IRL.

Frank and Tracy Mayernick – The husband and wife lobbying duo has been on #TeamNegron since the get-go. Question for them will be whether to expand and make hay while the sun shines or stay small and keep it all?

Missy Timmons, Pete Dunbar, Andrea Reilly, Diana Padgett, Karen Skyers, Alan Suskey, David Bishop, Jennifer Green – Remember the intro to the A-Team? “If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire the A-Team.” How about, if you have a budget problem, if no one else can help … you might consider hiring one of these lobbyists close to Latvala.

Pinellas County – The peninsula on a peninsula may not get a Senate President but it’s likely to get three years of budget goodies under Latvala’s TED appropriations/Appropriations tenure.

Randy Nielsen & Rich Johnston – Public Concepts wasn’t exactly hurting for business before Negron secured the top spot, but now Randy and Rich can woo another round of potential clients by pointing to their Senate President client.

Chris Latvala – The first-term member of the House would have been looking at six lonely years in the Legislature if his dad had continued his fight and lost. But now Chris is in an ideal position to help bring state dollars back to his district.

Isadora Rangel – It doesn’t hurt to be the political reporter for the local newspaper (TCPalm) of the Senate President. Play your cards right and POLITICO Florida might come a-calling.

Jim Rimes – The veteran Republican operative is the one Negron political consultant who also happens to do a bit of lobbying.

Ashley Ross – The uber fundraiser took a calculated risk leaving the party to help Negron’s political committee raise money, but judging by what the Treasure Coast Alliance paid out in fees and by what lies before her now that Negron’s firmly in charge, Ross is well positioned.

SaintPetersBlog/Florida Politics – For four years, I’ve tracked the Negron-Latvala rivalry like it was Kasparov vs. Fischer. Actually, before Negron it was Latvala vs. Andy Gardiner and Latvala vs. John Thrasher. From providing real-time insights of Thrasher’s failed coup against Gardiner through Latvala’s brokering of a deal with Gardiner to Negron’s securing of a majority of the pledges and finally to breaking the news of Latvala’s conceding, we’ve owned this story.

Trial lawyers – While some in the Florida Justice Association may have wanted Latvala to prevail, the trial bar should be able to stay out of trouble under a Corcoran/Negron Legislature.

University of South Florida – The school has done well enough the past few years with Latvala and Jeff Brandes and Will Weatherford and the Corcoran clan directing state money its way; it should only expect to do better with Latvala in charge of the purse strings.

Mixed bag

Oscar Braynon – The incoming leader of the Democrats could have played the role of kingmaker had the Negron-Latvala fight continued. The upside for Braynon? If the courts redraw the Senate districts in the punitive manner some Republicans fear, Braynon could have 16 or 17 other Democrats behind him during the 2017 legislative session.

Jeff Brandes – If you know Jeff, you know he’s a policy geek at heart, so all of these political machinations have been a distraction from his goal: to bring the Uber of (fill in the blank) to Florida. But will he be left without a natural seat to run in after the courts redraw the Senate districts. Let’s hope the minority access seat based in Hillsborough still has to to jump the Bay to pick up South Pinellas African Americans.


Andy Gardiner – The tenure of one of the more ineffectual Senate presidents is hastening to an end and the Orlando Republican doesn’t have much to show for his troubles. In fact, his district may end up being represented by a Democrat after he leaves.

Rob Bradley – The north Florida Republican had hoped to move up the cursus honorum of the Florida Senate, but there just aren’t enough plum assignments to go around, especially with Latvala occupying the Appropriations Chair.

Matt Gaetz – As long as Latvala was a threat to Negron, the Okaloosa Republican was a key part of the 2016 chess board. Now, not so much. Sure, many of his allies will remain engaged, but he needs every one he can get in what is shaping up to be an ultra-expensive Republican primary against George Gainer.

Bill Galvano – Earlier this year, this site was describing him as the de facto Senate President. Today, he’s got redistricting egg on his face and the possibility of running against Tom Lee in a primary if the courts accept a version of the plaintiffs’ maps.

Tom Lee – Behind the scenes, we are told the former Senate President is not happy he was not offered some sort of deal in all of the peace-making. There are only so many Senate President chairs to go around and when the music stops, its doubtful Lee will be sitting in one.

The Florida House – While the 40 Somalian warlords of the Florida Senate have been engaged in their various civil wars, Steve Crisafulli, Richard Corcoran and Co. have positioned the lower chamber into the better position. With peace at hand, Latvala handling appropriations and a clear line of Senate presidents to come, the Florida Senate may regain its natural advantage.

Frank and Tracy Mayernick – Wait, aren’t they in the Winners column, too? Yes, but, as one of their competitors noted they could be “the Oscar Juarez of 2015.” It’s a telling reference to an Orlando lobbyist who built a short but lucrative career based on his close relationship to then-Senate President Toni Jennings.  When Jennings left office Juarez did a quick fade into lobbying history.  The Mayernicks have a similarly close relationship with Joe Negron, and they have seen a meteoric rise in their earnings as he ascended to power.  But, with Latvala as Approps Chair much of the power they’ve been peddling is now vested in someone other than Negron.

Carlos Trujillo – With as much as I write about the South Florida Republican, you’d think I don’t like the guy, but I really do. That said, if he is Richard Corcoran’s budget chief, I don’t envy him for having to go up against Latvala for two years.

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.