Sachs won’t run for re-election to state Senate

Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach
Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach

Sen. Maria Sachs said Wednesday that she won’t seek re-election this fall, effectively ending a 10-year legislative career in the Florida House and Senate.

Sachs, a Delray Beach Democrat and lawyer, said she has formed a nonprofit organization called the Coalition Against Human Trafficking, and plans to focus her attention on this work.

“I have the opportunity to do this, and I know I cannot serve two masters,” Sachs said. “This is important work. And I know what it takes to run a good campaign.”

Sachs sponsored legislation that protected from criminal prosecution sex workers who are victims of human trafficking. And she has provided volunteer legal advice to organizations associated with Irish Nobel Laureate Betty Williams who is active in global citizenship campaigns, including the fight against trafficking.

Sachs served in the Florida House from 2006-10, when she was elected to the Senate. Sachs was re-elected in 2014 to a four-year term that she had planned to serve out — but that was upended by the court-ordered redistricting plan that puts all 40 state Senate districts on the ballot this year.

Three of Palm Beach County’s senators, Sachs, Sen. Joe Abruzzo, D-Wellington, and Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Atlantis, also were lumped into the same district in the Senate rewrite, forcing some tough re-election decisions.

On Wednesday, Sen. Joe Abruzzo, D-Wellington, said he was swapping districts with Rep. Kevin Rader, D-Delray Beach, with each man planning to file for the other’s seat by the June 24 end of candidate qualifying.

Sachs said that development, announced just hours before she announced her decision, didn’t change her mind. But she acknowledged having done polling on her re-election chances and added, “I know I had a good chance of winning.”

“But I had planned to serve only two more years. This would mean running again this year and you know, I think 10 years is enough,” she said.

Palm Beach County state Senate districts to change sharply under plan selected by judge

Palm Beach County Senate boundaries, recommended by judge
Palm Beach County Senate boundaries, recommended by judge

Senate district boundaries drawn by a voters’ coalition that could help Democrats win additional seats were recommended Wednesday by a judge over those drawn by Republican state lawmakers.

Leon County Circuit Judge George Reynolds sent a plan to the Florida Supreme Court seen as likely helping Democrats gain at least two new seats in a Senate where Republicans currently control 26 of 40 seats.

The proposed map also changes all four of Palm Beach County’s Senate districts. It would keep the county’s lone Republican senator, Senate President-designate Joe Negron, of Stuart, in the county — with the district he currently holds reshaped to represent the county’s far northwestern region.

The map submitted by the Florida Senate would have moved Negron out of Palm Beach County, into a district comprised of Martin, St. Lucie and Okeechobee counties.

The three seats held by Palm Beach County Democratic senators are overhauled in the recommended plan — and could set up a clash between Sens. Joe Abruzzo, D-Wellington, and Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach, who may vie over the same district.

A western Palm Beach County district, including the Glades area, includes most of Abruzzo’s current district. But it also loops south in Boca Raton and Broward County, taking in some voters Sachs currently serves.

The central county district now held by Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, loses Riviera Beach and West Palm Beach, but keeps Lake Worth and surrounding communities. A third county Senate seat would include West Palm Beach and continue north along the coast to the Martin County line, taking in parts of the areas Clemens, Abruzzo and Negron now represent.

Abruzzo already vows to run in the southwestern Palm Beach County district that reaches into Broward – if it eventually is endorsed by the Supreme Court.

Sachs could choose to square off against Abruzzo there. Then again, she may move north from her current, Delray Beach residence, to the seat stretching from the West Palm Beach area to the Martin County line, an area she has never represented before.


How new Florida Senate district maps could affect you

A Leon County Circuit Court judge is set to open a scheduled weeklong trial to decide on new boundaries for the state’s Senate districts.

During the trial, which begins Monday, Judge George Reynolds will decide which map to use: one proposed by the Senate, or one of four options proposed by the state’s League of Women Voters and Common Cause. Reynolds’ recommendation will go to the Florida Supreme Court, which recently ruled on a congressional map and next will review the judge’s Senate proposal.

The courts have taken over redistricting after congressional plans crafted by lawmakers beginning in 2012 were declared unconstitutional because they favored ruling Republicans and incumbents. Following those decisions, lawmakers acknowledged that the Senate map they drew would face the same constitutional problems and reached a settlement with the voters’ coalition that allowed the court to step in.

Under the current map, Palm Beach County has four Senate districts: District 25 (Sen. Joseph Abruzzo, D-Wellington); District 27 (Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth); District 32 (Sen. Joe Negron, R-Palm City); and District 34 (Sen. Maria Lorts Sachs, D-Delray Beach).

The current map of Florida Senate districts, including Palm Beach County's four. (Florida Senate)
The current map of Florida Senate districts, including Palm Beach County’s four. (Florida Senate)

Under the map proposed by the Florida Senate, Palm Beach County would have three districts: 28, which would include northern Palm Beach County and the western communities out to the Glades; 30, which would include Riviera Beach, West Palm Beach, Lake Worth and Greenacres; and 33, which would include Boynton Beach, Delray Beach and Boca Raton, and extend into Broward County.

The maps proposed by the voters coalition all carry the same plan for Palm Beach County: four districts. The top of the county would be split between districts 25 in the east and 32 out west, while District 27 would carry a similar shape to its current form, and District 34 would cover much of the western communities and southern Palm Beach County.

Here’s how the two would differ:

Three Senate districts or four? That's what the Supreme Court will decide soon for Palm Beach County.
Three Senate districts or four? That’s what the Supreme Court will decide soon for Palm Beach County.

Republican sniping and seat numbering dominates redistricting

Senate redistricting gets a little tense.
Senate redistricting gets a little tense.

Republican senators continued sniping Wednesday while reviewing plans for redrawing their election boundaries and a seat numbering scheme that could help a leadership bid by a Palm Beach County lawmaker.

Senate Redistricting Chairman Bill Galvano advanced the position that only half the 40-member Senate should face re-election next year – even if virtually every district changed in the effort to comply with a legal settlement with voters’ groups.

Under the seat-numbering plan proposed Wednesday, eight of the 13 Republican supporters of Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, would be shielded from facing re-election contests next fall.

Negron represents northern Palm Beach County and is locked in a bitter contest for next year’s Senate presidency with Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater. Having a majority of his backers guaranteed of holding onto their seats would benefit Negron’s chances.

Galvano, R-Bradenton, is among those who pledged to support Negron. But under criticism, Galvano agreed late Wednesday to also consider randomly assigning numbers to seats — and letting the Redistricting Committee choose which way to go.

“We’re on a really thin line here,” said Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, who added his own redistricting proposal Wednesday to six statewide plans already drawn by House and Senate staff.

“If you’re going to make the argument that some people don’t have to run here, the question is…why?” Clemens said, adding, “It’s a clear violation of a constitutional mandate that we not go through this process for a political purpose or to protect incumbents.”

Full story:

We made this gif to help explain Senate redistricting proposals

The Florida Legislature is in a special session right now to redraw maps for the state’s Senate districts.

But what does that mean to you?

Last week, Post reporter John Kennedy broke down the four Senate districts in Palm Beach County and how they could be affected by the proposals. (See links below.)

We made this gif to show the current South Florida Senate districts, and the six proposals now being considered by lawmakers:


As you can see, Palm Beach County would go from having four Senate districts to three under all six proposals.

You can review PDFs of the full state proposals here.

Check out John Kennedy’s special session preview here and blog posts:

• For Abruzzo’s Senate seat, redistricting may mean, go west
• Redistricting may anchor nomadic Sachs deeper in Palm Beach County
• Redrawing Senate districts unlikely to disrupt Palm Beach County’s central seat
• When lawmakers redraw Senate districts, Negron might exit Palm Beach County