Four years ago they brought in Lotto balls and the tumbling cage to randomly select which districts got the odd or even numbers that determined whether senators with new districts would get two or four-year terms. On Thursday, the Senate district lottery took the form of a random software program used by the state's auditor general.
The biggest losers in the map, two versions of which were filed by Senate Reapportionment Committee Chairman Bill Galvano as the starter maps for the committee to take up on Friday, are three senators from Miami-Dade: Sens.Anitere Flores, R-Miami, Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami and Dwight Bullard, D-Cutler Bay. They will have to move or face each other.
In Palm Beach County, Democratic Sen. Joe Abruzzo of West Palm Beach is merged into the same district as Maria Sachs of Delray Beach.
The informal meeting to select the new numbering system was held in a Senate hearing room Thursday morning, as staff from the auditor general randomly ran the computer program to match 40 districts to numbers.
Watching were a handful of Democratic senators Sens. Oscar Braynon, Jeff Clemens, Audrey Gibson and Geraldine Thompson as well as the Senate's legal team, and two Republican senators, Joe Negron and Jeff Brandes.
They started with the districts from the map filed as S9078, and then randomly determined which 20 of the 40 districts would be given an odd number in the new Senate map and a guarantee of four-year terms.
The Democrats asked they the number needed to be determined before maps were voted out. They warned it could be perceived as trying to protect incumbents, by giving them a reason to support the map, and would violate the anti-incumbent protection rules of the Florida Constitution.
"The question has to be asked, why are we numbering [the map] right now when it hasn't even come up for a vote,'' asked Braynon, after the meeting. "It leaves us open for that intent to be questioned...and everything could get thrown out."
"It's an effort to earn votes and give a political direction to folks that may want to re-engineer districts to make sure they are getting a two, or four-year term,'' Clemens added. "I think it sets us up to do things that are political in nature when we didn't need to do this. There was no good reason given for why we had to do this right now and I think it taints the process and makes it more unlikely we're going to take unconstitutional action."
The numbers will be attached to a redistricting plan, based on the existing base map S9078, filed by Galvano.
Still unanswered: will all senators have to face re-election on the 2016 ballot under this plan, or not? It seems illogical they wouldn't but the answer hasn't been offered.
Here's an updated look of how these numbers shake out.
Galvano has now filed the map with the new numbering scheme. It's S9090. Here is who will be getting the four-year terms and who will be getting two-year terms if this system is approved:
17 - Thad Altman, R-Melbourne
12 - Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando
11 - Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland
29 - Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth
39 - open (performs for African American, Democrat)
34 - Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood
19 - John Legg, R-NewPort Richey
26 - Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers
30 - Joe Abruzzo, D-West Palm Beach
22 - Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring
2 – Don Gaetz, R-Niceville
24 – Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton
20 – Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa
35 – Gwen Margolis, D-SunsetBeach
13 – David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs
14 – Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange
15 – Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando
18 – Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater
40 – open, performs for a African American Democrat
21 – Tom Lee, R-Brandon
These get two-year term:
36 - This district seems to merge Sens. Miguel de la Portilla, R-Miami, into the same seat as Anitere Flores, R-Miami, and Dwight Bullard, D-CutlerBay
5 - Aaron Bean, R-FernandinaBeach
16 - open, Republican-leaning
23 - Oscar Braynon, D-MiamiGardens
4 - Rob Bradley, R-FlemingIsland
23 - Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg
10 - Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby
37 - Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah
6 - Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville
1 Greg Evers, R-Baker
38 – open
9 – Travis Hutson, R-PalmHarbor
27 – Garrett Richter, R-Naples
28 – open
7 – Charlie Dean, R-Inverness
3 – Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee
32 – Jeremy Ring, D-Margate
31 – Joe Abruzzo, D-West Palm Beach and Maria Sachs, D-DelrayBeach
8 – Alan Hays, R-Umatilla
25 – Joe Negron, R-Stuart