Will Trey Radel’s drug bust reset the race for Senate President?

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 ”And a butterfly can flutter its wings over a flower in China and cause a hurricane in the Caribbean. I believe it. They can even calculate the odds. It just isn’t likely and it takes … so long.”  –– Robert Redford as card shark Jack Weil in Havana.

If a butterfly in Brazil can really cause a tornado in Texas, as the butterfly effect suggests, what kind of impact could Congressman Trey Radel’s bust for cocaine possession in Washington D.C. have on the race for president of the Florida Senate?

Some, especially supporters of state Senator Jack Latvala, suggest the impact could be tornado-sized.

Radel’s arrest has every pol in southwest Florida worth their salt updating their headshots. Among these would-be congressional candidates is the well-regarded Lizbeth Benacquisto, currently the Majority Leader of the Florida Senate.

Benacquisto is already considered such a lock to run for Congress that, not only is she running her her own TV ads that talk about her conservative values and work on behalf of Florida’s seniors and veterans, but ads criticizing Benacquisto are also on the air. Those ads are being paid for by the “Values Are Vital” super-PAC organized by Anthony Farhat, a long-time backer of Paige Kreegel, who last week announced his bid for Radel’s seat.

If, scratch that, when Benacquisto announces that she is running for Congress, it will set off a scramble for her state Senate seat. And with it, the race for Senate President may be reset.

Right now, that race is deadlocked between Joe Negron and Latvala, although even the staunches of Latvala supporters will concede that Negron is in the catbird seat. However, because Negron has not been able to close the deal, the deal has not been closed.

To paraphrase, Teddy KGB from the movie ‘Rounders,’ Latvala keeps hanging around, hanging around. The senator got alligator blood.

Unfortunately for Latvala, however, there are few opportunities for him to gain ground in 2014. There are currently no open state Senate seats from which he can garner a pledge. Maybe Republican Ellyn Bogdanoff will run against Democrat Maria Sachs, but if there was had ham, there’d be ham and eggs, if there was eggs.

Benacquisto running for Congress would create an opportunity for Latvala to pick up a vote or for Negron to seal the deal.

Considering running for Benaquisto’s seat, if she runs for Congress, are Reps. Matt Caldwell and Heather Fitzenghagen. 

No one is exactly sure why, but Fitzenhagen has been pegged as a possible Latvala supporter. That puts Caldwell in Negron’s camp, if for no other reason than by default. 

There are other possible candidates for Benacquisto’s seat floating out there, but, for now, it’s Caldwell vs. Fitzenhagen, which would be a proxy fight between Negron and Latvala.

All of this depends on Benacquisto pulling the trigger on a congressional run,

And that’s how Trey Radel’s coke bust could impact the future of the Florida Senate. Or how a butterfly in Brazil can cause a tornado in Texas.

Material from News-Press.com was used in this post.

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.