Would Don Gaetz dump Ellyn Bogdanoff to screw Jack Latvala?

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As has been typical through the ENTIRE narrative of the race for future Senate Presidencies, the latest reporting on this struggle is grossly inaccurate.  But that’s par for the course when it comes to discussing who will eventually lead the Florida Senate.

After all, how many times did we read that Andy Gardiner was dropping out of the race for the Senate Presidency only for the story to be updated to read, ‘Not exactly.’

The current thinking is that the August 14 primary will decide who will lead the Senate in 2017-18. Otherwise intelligent political observers keep saying that if Aaron Bean were to defeat Mike Weinstein in Senate District 4 and Jeff Brandes were to beat Jim Frishe in Senate District 22 then Jack Latvala’s would no longer be the presumptive frontrunner for the Senate Presidency.

Accordingly, every story written about these races is framed as if they are proxy battles between Latvala and Joe Negron.

“The thing that makes it really exciting is, it’s really a race about who’s going to be the Senate president,” said Tom Slade, a former state GOP chairman and long-ago senator who backs Bean, in a piece by Bill Cotterell, who takes the familiar path of casting the Bean vs. Weinstein race as the tipping point in the Latvala vs. Negron holy war.

Do the math, people!

Even if Bean is to beat Weinstein (a big, big, increasingly big if) and Brandes and his money are able to defeat Frishe (ask Rod Jones about what it’s like to be ahead in fundraising and up in the polls against Frishe), Latvala still has a cushion.

First of all, no one knows yet where Wilton Simpson, the soon-to-be-elected State Senator from District 18 (the seat John Legg moved out of to run against Jim Norman). Simpson had always been presumed to be a vote for John Thrasher, but that’s only because John Legg was a pledge for Latvala.  Now that Legg is no longer in the picture, why wouldn’t Simpson support his neighbor, Jack Latvala, and keep strong the Corcoran-Fasano-Weatherford Pasco-based hold on Tampa Bay politics?

But what Simpson decides to do is beside the point. And that is, the race for the Senate Presidency may come down to who wins between Republican Ellyn Bogdanoff and Democrat Maria Sachs in November. Bogdanoff is likely a pledge for Latvala. Were she to lose, in addition to Bean and Brandes winning, then Joe Negron would be in pretty good shape.

And that’s why the nastiest of rumors is currently circulating in the corridors of power in Tallahassee. That rumor suggests that the next Senate President Don Gaetz, who is currently in control of the GOP’s political apparatus designed to win State Senate races, might take a dive and allow Sachs to beat Bogdanoff just to deprive Latvala of the deciding vote.

Now, it’s not like Gaetz and the political committees he and his allies control are going to produce negative ads attacking Sachs. But they could deprive Bogdanoff of the financial resources she will need to defeat Sachs, whose campaign is a top priority of Florida Democrats. Gaetz and Co. could slow down contributions from lobbyists to Bogdanoff. They could send fewer RPOF staffers. They could poll less often for her.

Gaetz could dump the seat and no one would ever be the wiser. It wouldn’t be the first time a legislative leader traded away a seat to the opposite party.

After all, what’s the difference to Don Gaetz if there are 25 or 26 or 27 Republicans in the Florida Senate? Is one less Republican in the Senate worth blocking Latvala’s ambitions?

Again, were Gaetz to dump Bogdanoff, it would be difficult to prove this double-negative.

So keep track of how much money the leadership funds spend on Bogdanoff’s behalf. There will be few races for the party to spend money on in the general election. The Republicans could devote two or three million dollars to Bogdanoff’s candidacy and not blink an eye. But if they only allocate a few hundred thousand dollars, the fix is in.

And wouldn’t that be a story.

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.