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Messy Florida Senate is a case study in intrigue, chaos

The state of the Florida Senate is . . . messy

It’s a place of suspicion, hobbled leadership, and inter-Republican factionalism. Once known for a clubby and collegial atmosphere, the 40-member body became a theater of cliff-hanger votes and palace intrigue in the final days of the just-ended legislative session.

The ripple effect of the Senate’s tensions could extend beyond the special session, touching state Senate races from Pensacola to Miami, and legislation touching every Floridian.

Indeed, the Senate couldn’t even draw legislative seats the right way.

On Friday, the Florida Supreme Court said the GOP-controlled Senate — unlike the larger, more-partisan House — failed to comply adequately with the state’s new voter-approved constitutional amendments designed to block gerrymandering of legislative and congressional districts, which have to be redrawn every 10 years.

“There is at least the appearance that the Senate thumbed its nose at the will of the people,” Justice James E.C. Perry wrote in a concurrence to the court’s 5-2 decision to reject the Senate map.

As a result, the Legislature must reconvene in a special session, beginning Wednesday. After a session of bruised egos and hard feelings, it’s unclear whether the Senate will have an easy time drawing adequate maps. The courts could ultimately redraw them.

At the center of it all: soon-to-be-Senate President Don Gaetz, who was in charge of drawing the now-rejected Senate reapportionment maps. He was also involved in a failed coup to replace Sen. Andy Gardiner with his friend Sen. John Thrasher in the race to succeed him as Senate president.

Column here

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