State, county ballots set
Find out who is running for office across Central Florida.
TALLAHASSEE — Qualifying for legislative races ended Friday with one of the largest fields of candidates in recent history, as Democrats are looking to make inroads into the Republican dominance in the House and Senate in November.
The Florida Democratic Party is more accustomed to concentrating their resources on a few toss-up seats, but this year they’re touting they have candidates in all but one of the 141 seats up for grabs.
“What you’re going to find this time around is a lot of these candidates who usually skate by are weaker than expected,” said FDP executive direct Juan Penalosa.
Democrats have been out of power in the Legislature since 1996, and Republicans hold a 23-17 advantage in the Senate and a 73-46 edge in the House. Democrats are hoping to flip three seats to gain a 20-20 split, giving them the ability to block gerrymandered districts when lawmakers draw new political maps in 2022. They plan on putting $2 million into down-ballot races, Penalosa said.
Republican Party of Florida chairman Joe Gruters, though, is confident of not only holding the open seats Democrats are looking to flip, but of adding to their advantage in each chamber.
“We’re not on the defensive; we’re going on offense,” said Gruters, also a state senator from Sarasota. “We’re going to win back some of these seats that are out there, and we’re going to expand our majority.”
One of those seats, SD 9, is in Central Florida and covers all of Seminole County and part of Volusia. Patricia SIgman is the favored candidate of the Democratic establishment but she’ll have to contend with four others to win her party’s nomi
Guerdy Remy, Alexander Duncan, Alexis Carter and Rick Ashby also are vying for the chance to take on Jason Brodeur, a former state representative, the only Republican in the race. Jestine Ionotti will be on the November ballot as a no party affiliation (NPA) candidate.
There were two Central Florida races that weren’t crowded at all. Rep. Kamia Brown, D-Ocoee, will return to Tallahassee after failing to attract a challenger for her HD 45 seat, and Travaris McCurdy will replace term-limited Rep. Bruce Antone, D-Orlando, since no one else qualified for the race.
The primary election is set for Aug. 18; the general election will take place Nov. 3.
Here’s a look at some of the other legislative contests in Central Florida:
House District 28: Democrats Pasha Baker and Lee Mangold will square off in the primary to see who will take on incumbent Rep. David Smith, R-Winter Springs. Michael Riccio qualified as an NPA candidatel.
HD 29: Incumbent Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, faces a primary challenger in Luther Dowe, who paid the qualifying fee of $1,782 by check on Wednesday and has loaned his campaign $20,000. Plakon has more than $120,000 in his campaign war chest. If he prevails, Plakon will have a rematch with Democrat Tracey Kagan, whom he narrowly defeated in 2018.
HD 30: Former Rep. Bob Cortes, R-Altamonte Springs, is mounting a comeback, and eyeing a rematch with Rep. Joy Goff Marcil, D-Maitland.
HD 31: Republicans Stevan Novakovic and Keith Truenow will vie in the primary to replace Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, R-Mount Dora, who is vacating the seat. Democrats Debra Kaplan, who lost to Sullivan in 2018, and Crissy Stile will compete for their party’s
HD 32: Stephanie Dukes, Linda Kero and Ryan Morales will compete in a three-way Democratic primary to see who will take on incumbent Rep. Anthony Sabatini, R-Howey-in-theHills.
HD 42: Four Republicans will contend for the nomination to replace term-limited Rep. Mike LaRosa, R-St. Cloud. They are Fred Hawkins, Dianna Liebnitzky, Gary Scott and Bienvenido Valentin. Democrat Barbara Ann Cady will face the winner in the general election, along with NPA candidate Leroy Sanchez.
HD 43: Rep. John Cortes, DKissimmee, is leaving his seat to run for Osceola Clerk of Courts, and six Democrats have signed up to replace him: Kristen Arrington, Alex Barrio, Carlos Irizarry, Andrew Jeng, Tamika Lyles and Ricardo Rangel. There is no Republican candidate.
HD 44: Incumbent Rep. Geraldine Thompson, D-Windermere, must fend off a primary challenge from Andy Ferrell if she is to meet either Frank Blanco or Bruno Portigliatti, who will compete in the GOP primary.
HD 47: Republicans Jeremy Sisson and Kevin Morenski will square off in the Republican primary to see who will challenge incumbent Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando.
HD 48: Rep. Amy Mercado’s decision to leave to run for Orange County Property Appraiser spurred a scramble by Democrats to replace her and five have signed up for the run – Daisy Morales, Nelson Pena, Julio Rocha, Tony Tsonis and Samuel Vilchez Santiago. The winner will face Republican Jesus Martinez in the general election.
HD 49: Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando, faces a challenge from Republican Robert Prater.
HD 50: Rep. Rene Plasencia, R-Orlando, will meet Democrat Nina Yoakum in the general election.
State Rep. Chris Sprowls, 35, addresses the Florida House of Representatives, Sept. 17, 2019, in Tallahassee after the Republican was elected to lead the 120-member chamber.