Florida senators react to new elections due to redistricting

Amanda McKenzie | Bay News 9 | 01/10/2016

It’s going to be a bigger ballot for the November election. That’s because all 40 state senators will be up for election, which is due to the new district lines drawn throughout the state.

This means about half of our lawmakers will have to run a new campaign much earlier than expected.

“Well, I was certainly one of those that had a four-year-term and was not planning on running,” Sen. David Simmons (R-Longwood), said. “But it’s ok.”

Simmons is just one of many lawmakers who will now have to shift their focus to fundraising and running a campaign in time for the 2016 election.

“I expected it to happen as we were moving through the process of redistricting,” Simmons said.

And for some state senators like Simmons, the changes also mean they fall into new districts that will most likely cover different areas other than their current districts.

Now, half of the districts will be running for a four-year-term, while the other half runs for a two-year-term. The Florida Constitution requires that the senate be split to avoid a complete turnover every four years.

“In my case, I was going to have to run in ’16 anyhow,” Sen. Alan Hays (R-Umatilla) said.

Hays was planning to campaign for votes this year, but he will now be running for the shorter two-year-term length due to the new district lines and district renumbering.

“So now, [it’s] just a matter of knowing where the constituents are that I have to get in touch with,” Hays said.

And that goes for anyone else now interested in making a run for office.

With this being a presidential election year, more voters are expected to be heading to the polls. So new hats could be thrown into the ring for a chance at a senate seat.

This also means other Senators could be stepping down sooner than expected.

Simmons wasn’t planning on another four years. He was aiming to finish his term by 2018 for a run at a higher state office.

“The plan is to explore running for Attorney General in 2018,” Simmons revealed. “I’m keeping my options open.”

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