New Legislative Maps to Drive Changes to Hillsborough Legislative Delegation

Newly adopted district maps for state lawmakers could produce political unrest in the 2022 campaigns in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, possibly affecting the political plans of State Rep. Jackie Toledo, R-Tampa.

At the State House, the new cards throw outgoing members of the State House in Hillsborough in the same district in two cases – but it is possible that these incumbents will not end up facing each other.

The maps place Rep. Fentrice Driskell, a rising Democratic star, in the same Republican-leaning district northwest of Hillsborough as freshman Republican Rep. Traci Koster.

But Driskell could move a short distance to a new Democratic-leaning North Tampa district politically similar to his current district.

Driskell, who is currently renting out his home, would not comment on his plans, citing a desire to keep political considerations out of the constituency process.

Likewise, the new maps place Democratic Rep. Andrew Learned of Brandon and Republican Rep. Mike Beltran of Lithia in the same southeast Hillsborough district, a swing territory with a small Republican vote advantage in the last presidential election.

Learned said he intended to stay put, but Beltran said he intended to file in a new, heavily GOP-leaning southeastern Hillsborough district that overlaps much of of its current district, including Sun City Center.

Meanwhile, the South Tampa-based Toledo District is getting slightly more Democratic under the new maps. It goes from a swinging seat on the razor’s edge where Joe Biden won by less than 1% to covering territory where Biden won by four points.

Toledo has won the district by larger margins over prominent Democratic challengers since 2016, but is said to have plans to challenge Democratic state Sen. Janet Cruz or U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa.

District changes could provide incentive for that, but Toledo did not respond to voice and text messages for comment.

Cruz’s Douth Tampa-based district is moving from territory with a narrow Democratic advantage where Biden won by 3 points to a slightly higher Democratic advantage of about 4 points.

The future of the heavily Democratic district of Castor, based in Tampa, is uncertain, as no final congressional plan has been set, but it could become a vibrant district.

In Pinellas, most changes to the house map don’t seem likely to affect partisan control of districts.

For example, the vacant seat being vacated by Rep. Ben Diamond, D-St. Saint-Petersburg will become a little more democratic; and the southeastern swing district of Pinellas now held by Rep. Linda Chaney, R-St. Pete Beach, will become a little more Republican.

State Rep. Nick DiCeglie, R-Indian Rocks Beach, plans to run for the South Pinellas Senate seat that will be vacated by Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes. The district of Brandes, which voted for Trump by 6 points, becomes slightly more Democratic under the new map but still leans Republican.

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