Sen. Joe Negron is set to be designated this week as the next president of the Florida Senate, with the event following the Palm Beach and Treasure Coast Republican lawmaker’s successful capping of a long intra-party fight for the top post.
The 26-member Republican caucus, which controls the 40-member Senate, is scheduled to meet at 2 p.m., Wednesday to formally select Negron as the chamber’s next leader.
Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, earlier set the date. But Negron’s claim remained clouded until earlier this month because of a challenge from Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, who had his own pack of supporters.
Latvala, though, abruptly dropped his bid for the presidency in the closing hours of a special session on Senate redistricting. In throwing his support to Negron, whose district currently includes northern Palm Beach County, Latvala was named appropriations chairman under his former rival.
In the exchange, Negron will rise to one of the most powerful posts in state government, provided that Republicans maintain their Senate majority following next November’s elections. Latvala gets arguably the most influential job beneath the Senate president.
Less clear, however, is where Senate districts fall — and whether Negron, who lives in Stuart, will continue to represent Palm Beach County.
Lawmakers failed to reach a consensus during the special session on redistricting, leaving it to Leon County Circuit Judge George Reynolds to sort through proposed maps, sending what he considers the best to the Florida Supreme Court, which will decide the matter. A trial is set for Dec. 14-18.
In the map recommended to Reynolds by the Florida Senate, Negron’s district is pushed out of Palm Beach County. But in four maps proposed by a voters’ coalition challenging the Senate’s line-drawing, Negron would continue to represent a northern portion of the county.