House Democratic Leader Ron Saunders offered strategic advice Wednesday to ruling Republicans while making a few political predictions, as well.
The Key West lawmaker said he expected that GOP leaders will deliberately slow down budget talks next year – likely leaving the bulk of budget-making for a special session.
When lawmakers convene in January, Saunders forecast that the Republican-controlled Legislature will move quickly to approve a redistricting plan, submitting it for court approval.
If rejected by judges, that would give lawmakers time to craft another plan before the scheduled end of the two-month regular session.
The budget, though, will be kept back by leaders, Saunders said, to maintain control over rank-and-file lawmakers.
“It’d be nice to have that budget still sitting out there, to have some leverage over your members,” said Saunders, who a decade ago helped lead redistricting for the then-Democratic majority.
Saunders said that because of declining population in some Republican-heavy areas – including Pinellas County – as many as eight GOP House members may find themselves scrambling for political turf now held by a fellow House Republican.
Those wounded by final decisions are likely to have little loyalty to leaders, Saunders suggested.
“There’s going to be a lot more upset Republican members than Democratic members,” Saunders said.
Democrats? “They’ve pretty much bottomed us out. It’d be hard to draw maps worse than what we have now he said.