First, let me say at the outset that I used to work for State Senator Victor Crist, and I consider him a friend. That said, I wanted to take a second to comment on a story that has appeared on the Political Whore.
Earlier this month, Wayne Garcia posted his thoughts about the 2010 campaign, noting a number of races where people are already in or thinking about running. In the post was this blurb:
Speaking of [Victor] Crist, it is expected that he will seek a seat on the County Commission. Most think that it will be [Jim] Norman’s vacant seat (Crist lives in the district), but it’s possible Crist could run for the seat now held by Commissioner Ken Hagan and Hagan could run for Norman’s seat, gaining additional years on the commission (Hagan would be term-limited in 2012 without such a switch).
The mention of the “possibility” here was taken by some to mean there was a deal to make this switch. Even before Senator Crist denied there was a deal to Wayne this week, I knew there was no deal.
Senator Crist has been a state legislator for 16 years, getting into elected office after years as a community activist. This has enabled him to build his own base of support to which he turns not only during elections, but to also help continue to make our community better. Because of this broad base of support, he has been able to bring significant changes to the University Area commonly known as “Suitcase City.”
From Senator Crist’s perspective, he would not need to switch with Hagan. While he has not decided his next political step, I know he has given thought to running for county commission. Commission Jim Norman is term-limited in 2010 and cannot run for re-election. (Norman is running for Crist’s state senate seat.) So an open commission seat would be a plausible option for Crist, even a county-wide seat.
The premise behind Wayne’s note is more from Hagan’s perspective. The defeat of former County Commissioner Brian Blair by Commissioner Kevin Beckner has put a bit of a kink in what could be Hagan’s long term prospects. If Blair had won, both Blair and Hagan would be term-limited in 2012, so they could have run for each other’s open seat, allowing them both to continue serving. However, with Blair’s defeat, Hagan would have to challenge incumbent commissioner Beckner – something he may not want to do. Hagan would reach the end of his eight-year term, and would not have an open seat for which to run at any level.
(NOTE: I have not talked to Hagan or anyone tied to him. This is just supposition based on the facts readily available).
Also, this would not be the first time a commissioner elected in a single-member district would jump early to a county-wide seat before their term was up. In 2002, former County Commissioner Stacey Lyn Easterling, who could have run for re-election in District 1, jumped to District 5 to run against Norman. Norman defeated her easily in a tough Republican primary battle.
So, when you factor Hagan’s limited options and the fact that these kinds of things happen, it’s a natural conclusion to suggest it could happen again. I am sure many politicos around Tampa are talking about this as an option.
However, just because it “could” happen does not mean there is some kind of deal in place.