Latvala: “They don’t know jack”

We had a lengthy interview yesterday with embattled Sen. Jack Latvala, who’s under investigation by his colleagues after being accused of groping and verbally demeaning female lobbyists and aides.

Here’s some of what didn’t make it into the story in which the Clearwater Republican picked apart some of the allegations, admitted to others — related to the comments about women’s appearances — and called on his accusers to undergo lie detector tests, as he did.

“There are a lot of powerful interests here,” he said, referring to the allegations.

Latvala’s’ running for governor, and right now, his main opponent in the GOP primary is Ag Commish Adam Putnam. But House Speaker Richard Corcoran, a political foe of Latvala’s who’s called for the senator to step down, is widely expected to jump into the race.

Latvala wouldn’t say whether he’s going to stay in the race.

“I’m not going to get into that at this point. I think there’s a whole bunch of people surprised that I’m still standing at this point, on both fronts,” Latvala said, referring to the governor’s race and remaining in the Senate.

“They don’t know Jack, though, do they?” he said, using a campaign slogan.

Latvala’s also may have some political enemies in his own chamber.

Latvala said he’s been followed by a private detective “on and off” since he returned to the Senate in 2010, and referred to a heated contest for president of the Senate.

“I think that’s so disgusting that our system in Tallahassee’s come to that,” he said. “What I do from here on is going to depend on how this system works. There’s a lot of people in our Republican party who don’t like the way people tried to stop Donald Trump and there’s a lot of parallels here.”

It’s unclear if Latvala was referring to other Republicans who tried to take down Trump, or the media, which Trump accuses of having it out for him.

Latvala has harshly criticized POLITICO Florida, which first reported the allegations by unnamed women.

He said his political future is “dependent on how the system works.”

Negron’s hired an outside law firm to handle the investigation, which will then go to the Senate Rules Committee, headed by Lizbeth Benacquisto.

Latvala, who’s been in the political process for decades, rejected the notion that sexual harassment is the backdrop for everything that happens in the Capitol, as suggested by some.

“I think a lot of people would like to make the problems in the Capitol all be about sex. But I’ve never seen so many $250,000 checks cut in my life in 40 something years in politics in Florida,” he said. “I still say you get a whole lot more for a quarter of a million dollar check than you get for a good-night kiss.”