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Katie Sanders
By Katie Sanders June 6, 2012

New Pinellas redistricting maps trip up Jack Latvala

Sen. Jack Latvala wants to be president of the state Senate in a few years. To do it, the Clearwater resident needs the support of two kinds of people: a majority of his Republican colleagues and a lot of new voters in his re-election bid.

Latvala, who returned to the Senate in 2010, tried to explain to his constituents just how many new voters he would face in two "sensible-looking" Pinellas County-dominated districts drawn by the Legislature during the redistricting process.

"District 22 includes about 80% of the district I have represented since 2010," he wrote in a June 2012 newsletter to constituents. "District 20 includes about 20% of the area I have represented since 2010 as well as much of the area in North Pinellas County that I represented in the Florida Senate from 1994 to 2002."

Latvala decided on June 6, 2012, to enter the District 20 race.

A reader asked us to review his comments from the newsletter. We decided a graphic -- a first for PolitiFact -- could do most of the talking.

Latvala’s current District 16 sprawls across Tampa Bay and includes the west coast of Tampa, the northwest corner of Hillsborough County and the eastern half of Pinellas County.

In all, 431,916 residents live there, according to our analysis of Senate redistricting data.

This year, the Legislature operated under new voter-approved restrictions to draw districts that are compact and more in line with county boundaries. So lawmakers divided District 16 into four new districts around Tampa Bay -- 17, 19, 20 and 22.

Latvala's new district graphic

About 277,692 of those District 16 residents, or 64 percent, are now in District 22, which covers central Pinellas County, the southern Pinellas beaches and hops the bay to encompass south Tampa. It’s not 80 percent, as Latvala claimed.

About 19 percent of District 16 residents are now in District 20, which blankets the northern Pinellas County cities of Largo, Clearwater (where Latvala currently lives), Safety Harbor and Oldsmar. This part is in line with what he told newsletter recipients.

The point Latvala was trying to make, he told us, is that he has one of the highest percentages of taking on new territory as a result of redistricting. Basically, he knew that District 20 included only 20 percent of the population of his old District 16, which is correct. But he wrongly assumed that the remaining 80 percent of his old district would be moved into new District 22. (We're talking about people here, not land area.)

Latvala’s newsletter is wrong about District 22 but right about District 20. We rate his statement Half True.

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New Pinellas redistricting maps trip up Jack Latvala

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