Orlando Archives - Page 3 of 182 - Florida Politics

Amy Mercado, Rene Plasencia, Carlos Smith re-elected

In election contests that were far from mysteries, voters returned Orlando Democratic state Reps. Carlos Guillermo Smith and Amy Mercado, and Orlando Republican state Rep. Rene Plasencia to office in eastern Orange County Tuesday.

Mercado and Smith are leaders of the progressive wing of House Democrats and fended off token challenges from late-qualified Republicans George Chandler and Ben Griffin in House Districts 48 and 49 east-central and northeast Orange County.

They both won second terms with more than 63 percent of the vote in their Orange County districts.

Plasencia won a third term, but his second representing House District 50 in far eastern Orange and northwest Brevard County. To do so he faced a more formidable challenge from Democrat Pam Dirschka of Titusville, who has been campaigning for nearly a year.

Through early returns, Dirschka was leading by about 1,000 votes in Plasencia’s home county, but Plasencia was crushing her in her home, Brevard, leading her by nearly 9,000 votes there, with most precincts reporting.

All three have been highly active in the Hurricane Maria relief efforts in Central Florida and on Puerto Rico, a critical issue throughout eastern Orange County, which has a large Puerto Rican population and is home to thousands of hurricane refugees.

Darren Soto coasts to easy re-election in CD 9

Democratic U.S. Rep. Darren Soto won himself a second term as the only Puerto Rican member of Congress from Florida, representing Florida’s most Puerto-Rican district.

Soto, of Celebration defeated Republican businessman Wayne Liebnitzky Tuesday in a rematch of the election that sent Soto to Congress in 2018.This time Soto won 58 percent to 42 percent, running up big vote totals in Orange and Osceola counties, while Liebnitzky won by a slight margin in Polk County.

Soto represents a district that sprawls across all of Osceola County and much of south Orange and east Polk counties, taking in a number of communities that have been rapidly growing, and particularly growing with Puerto Rican migrants in the two years since he first took office.

Liebnitzky largely campaigned on issues tied to support of President Donald Trump and his economic policies, particularly of tax cuts and free enterprise. However, Soto pushed a mixture of moderate Democratic positions on economic issues with calls for vigorous environmental protection policies and a strong stand on gun law reforms.

Stephanie Murphy solidifies claim to CD 7

Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, who quickly went from “who’s she?” to “how did she do that?” when she ran for and won a stunning upset in Florida’s 7th Congressional District in 2016, is no longer anyone’s surprise, as she won easy re-election victory Tuesday.

Murphy, of Winter Park, defeated Republican state Rep. Mike Miller 58 percent to 42 percent Tuesday, claiming a lock on a district that her Republican predecessor had owned for 24 years.

Murphy won both in Orange County and in the more conservative Seminole County, providing Miller, also of Winter Park, no place to go to look for a base.

After her victory, Florida Democratic Party Chair Terrie Rizzo issued the following statement, “Over the last two years, Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy has proven to be one of the most effective leaders in Congress and tonight her community recognized her hard work with their overwhelming support at the ballot box.

“Congresswoman Murphy has cut through Washington’s gridlock to deliver real results, including $100 million for K-12 schools and universities in central Florida in the wake of Hurricane Maria and the lifting of the 22-year ban on federally-sponsored gun violence research. Congratulations to Congresswoman Murphy on her well-deserved victory tonight,” she concluded.

Her re-election victory rewards a first term that saw her cutting a decidedly centrist path in Congress, rejecting siren calls from the Democratic Party’s progressive wing, though she was a frequent critic, and occasional legislative opponent, of President Donald Trump’s foreign affairs policies.

Miller, who had cut his own moderate path on many issues in the Florida House of Representatives, nonetheless took staunchly conservative positions on social issues such as abortion and gun reform, for which Murphy held liberal views. Yet he tried to characterize her chiefly as a tax-and-spend liberal, and she easily shrugged the attacks as largely false.

The result showed a socially-progressive voter base in the increasingly urban Seminole County and decidedly urban north and central Orange County that, at the least, preferred her overall package.

Puerto Rico speaker among 14 endorsements for Mike Miller

Puerto Rico Speaker of the House Carlos “Johnny” Mendez iss among 14 members of the Puerto Rican General Assembly to endorse Republican state Rep. Mike Miller for Congress in Florida’s 7th Congressional District, Miller’s campaign announced Monday.

Mendez’s endorsement was joined by those of other Puerto Rico Reps. Jose Aponte, Felix LaSalle, Maria Milagros Charbonier, Michael Adid Quinones, Victor Pares, Eddie Charbonier, Lourdes Ramos, Jackie Rodriguez, Jose “Pitchy” Torres Zamora, Pedro Santiago, Wilson Roman, Manuel Claudio, and Jose “Memo” Gonzales.

Miller is taking on Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy in Tuesday’s general election.

“Mike has been a consistent supporter of the Puerto Rican community in Central Florida. As a member of the Puerto Rican hurricane relief team, he helped bring relief to Puerto Rican residents after hurricanes Irma and Maria, working to ensure displaced residents have access to education, health care documents, and job placements to help them start a new life here in Central Florida,” Mendez stated in a news release issued by Miller’s campaign.

CD 7 covers Seminole County and north and central Orange County.

National groups spend $1.1 million backing Stephanie Murphy in CD 7 race

National political committees that played a major role in helping U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy win her seat in Congress two years ago are coming to her aid again, with nearly $1.2 million in outside money spent in Florida’s 7th Congressional District through last week — almost all of it on her side.

The Democratic House Majority Political Action Committee has poured about $800,000 into television advertising in the past 10 days attacking Murphy’s Republican opponent, state Rep. Mike Miller, and several other groups have pitched in for her as well in recent weeks, according to the latest independent expenditure reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Much of the House Majority PAC money went into a television commercial that Miller’s campaign charged was false, and which at least one Orlando-area TV station has pulled, according to Miller’s campaign.

Nonetheless, few outside groups have been riding to Miller’s rescue. Through last Wednesday, the only independent group to help out Miller has been Central Florida Solutions, which has spent $63,878 on mailers, including some sent out last week.

So far, groups supporting Murphy have spent $1.1 million in the CD 7 general election campaign.

Murphy has gotten support not just from the Democrats, but from the No Labels Action group that pushes for bipartisan, moderate politics. That group, which to date has supported 11 Democrats and nine Republicans running for Congress this year, has spent $153,000 on mailers and digital advertising supporting Murphy.

She also has received another $125,000 in general election support, through radio advertising, from the Center Forward Committee. Four other groups, including the Environmental Defense Action Fund and the Brady Political Action Committee, have spent a few thousand dollars apiece supporting her campaign.

Eva Longoria Baston brings Latina superstars to rally for Andrew Gillum

Some of the most prominent Latina names on American television gathered in Kissimmee to promote Democrat Andrew Gillum’s candidacy for governor.

Eva Longoria Bastón, Zoe Saldana, America Ferrera, Gina Rodriguez and Rosario Dawson, each one wearing a “Phenomenally Latina” T-shirt, shared a stage together with R. Jai Gillum.

The actress-activists stressed the importance of making Hispanic voters count this election.

“I need you to put a face a face to our democracy,” Dawson said.

Salsa singer Frankie Negrón also appeared at the event.

The political rally held more star power than most.

Longoria Bastón, best known for her role on Desperate Housewives, has been involved for years in Democratic politics, and she spoke at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

So did Ferrera, star of NBC’s Superstore, and she served regularly as a surrogate for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Rodriguez, star of the CW’s Florida-based Jane The Virgin, includes political storylines about immigration and other issues on her show regularly and endorsed Clinton in 2016.

Dawson, who starred in the film adaptation of Rent, has been involved in activism for years, recently recording an anti-Donald Trump PSA. She’s even toyed with the idea of running for office.

Saldana, star of the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, said she felt moved to get involved in politics after having children.

The women visited Florida for an early voting rally organized by The Latino Victory Fund, a national political committee funded by George Soros. Longoria Bastón co-founded the organization in 2014 with Texas philanthropist and activist Henry Munoz III

Voters rallied in Kissimmee at 65th Infantry Veterans Park, in the heavily Puerto Rican Buenaventura Lakes community.

The actresses plan to hold another early voting rally today in Miami at the Ball & Chain, Ferrera announced on social media.

“We need to speak out by voting,” read a message posted on Twitter by Saldana and Longoria Bastón.

Latina actresses joining R. Jai Gillum for Kissimmee rally Sunday

Eva Longoria Bastón and America Ferrera will be among celebrity Latinas and others supporting the Andrew Gillum‘s Democratic gubernatorial campaign at a rally with R. Jai Gillum in Kissimmee Sunday morning.

The Latino Victory Fund, a national political committee funded by George Soros, announced it is arranging an early-vote rally at the 65th Infantry Veterans Park, in the heavily-Puerto Rican Buenaventura Lakes community in north Kissimmee. The park is named for the famed U.S. Army regiment from Puerto Rico known as “The Borinqueneers”.

Gillum’s wife R. Jai Gillum will headline, joined on stage by the actresses Longoria, Ferrara, Rosario DawsonGina Rodriguez, and Zoe Saldaña, and actor Frankie Negrón, and celebrity archetect Henry R. Muñoz III, who co-founded Latino Victory Fund.

Also joining them will be Democratic U.S. Rep. Darren Soto of Celebration and Democratic U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez of New York.

The rally comes two days before election day, when Gillum faces Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis and Soto faces Republican congressional nominee Wayne Liebnitzky in Florida’s 9th Congressional District, which represents Kissimmee.

Members of the public wishing to attend have to RSVP here to attend the “Fiesta y Vota” event, which is set to start at 9:30 a.m. and run through noon Sunday.

Latino Victory Fund spent more than $500,000 to campaign for Soto this summer and autumn.

Mike Prendergast: Duty, honor and country

America’s veterans understand the meaning of those hallowed words like no other group of citizens in this country.

Now more than ever, it is every Floridian’s responsibility to ensure that our state’s returning veterans and their family members know that we have their back, and we thank them for their personal sacrifices and their selfless service.

We are less than a week away from one of the most important elections in a generation. Early voting is in full swing and absentee ballots are flowing back into the offices of every Supervisor of Elections in our great state.

On this ballot, voters across the state of Florida will have an epic opportunity to ensure that they protect our veterans and thank them for their service in a way that has never been done before in our state’s history.

A “yes” vote on Amendment 10 will ensure that the needs of our military members are always supported and that the priceless service of our veterans is never forgotten.

Florida is home to the nation’s third largest population of veterans, with more than one-half of our veterans having served in combat. I write today to stress the importance of Amendment 10, the “Protection Amendment.”

No matter when they served and no matter where they served, Florida’s veterans return home to the most welcoming state in our nation. That status could be in jeopardy if we don’t protect them by voting in favor of Amendment 10.

As it stands right now, there is no statute requiring the legislature to retain our Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs. So, on Nov. 6, we need to overwhelmingly pass Amendment 10 to show our support and thanks to our veterans.

Passage of Amendment 10 will ensure that our state’s Department of Veterans’ Affairs (FDVA) will be a permanent part of our state government’s structure. This agency (FDVA) is the essential conduit for every veteran in Florida to get access to their earned services and benefits.

These benefits range from transition back to civilian life, to health care, to education, to employment and many others. In sum, by having a nationally recognized and award-winning agency known as the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs, this vital link between our veterans and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs can be preserved and protected.

I urge you to vote “Yes” on Amendment 10 to protect our veterans.


Colonel Mike Prendergast served on active duty for more than 31 years as a United States Army Military Policeman and U.S. Paratrooper, to include multiple combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also served for five years as the Executive Director of the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs. He continues his service today as the Sheriff of Citrus County.

Bernie Sanders calls on college generation to vote their values

Declaring that he believes them to be the most progressive generation in history, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders told a rally of University of Central Florida students Wednesday that the future is in their hands.

“I happen to believe that the younger generation of America today is the most progressive generation in the history of America,” Sanders said. “You should be very proud of that. You should be proud that you are leading our country in opposition to racism, oppsition to sexism, in opposition to homophobia, in opposition to religious bigotry, and unlike the president of the United States, you know that climate change is real.”

Yet while many polls and social surveys back that up, Sanders and the Democrat he came to promote, Florida gubernatorial nominee Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, and everyone else knows that the younger generation also, normally, is the least impactful in elections.

On Wednesday about 400 people, mostly students, filled half the floor and a smattering of seats at the UCF CFE arena, a crowd less than half of the one that came the last time Sanders came to UCF to campaign for Gillum in August. That rousing crowd, which also heard Gillum speak, was perhaps the first major signal that the long-shot Gillum had a real chance to win the Aug. 28 Democratic primary.

Wednesday’s crowd, though drawn by a rally announcement that came just hours before the rally itself, was far short of that. Sanders and the warm-up speakers, who included Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Chris King Democratic attorney general candidate Sean Shaw, state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, and Florida House nominee Anna Eskamani, all laid into the students to vote their progressive values. Afterwards, Smith even led a march from the arena to UCF’s early voting site.

“You are a great and wonderful generation,” Sanders said. “But let me again be very blunt with you about our ideas about economic justice and social justice and environmental justice and racial justice. They don’t mean anything unless participate in the political prociess, unless you come out to vote.”

While Sanders talked briefly about Gillum, he spent much of his speech focusing on issues that he could talk about from a national perspective such as climate change, criminal justice reform, and combating injustice.

It was left largely to Shaw to frame statewide issues, and he framed them as the things that are on the ballot Nov. 6, and to King to go after Gillum’s rival, Republican former U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis.

Bernie Sanders to rally votes for Andrew Gillum

Just hours before President Donald Trump rallies voters Wednesday for Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders will appear in Central Florida to back Democratic nominee Andrew Gillum.

Sanders, who drew heavy support from progressive voters as he ran in the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries, is scheduled to appear at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at the University of Central Florida’s CFE Arena in Orlando.

Then he heads to the University of South Florida East Gym in Tampa to rally alongside Democratic Lt. Gov. candidate Chris King and Attorney General candidate Sean Shaw. Doors open at 2 p.m.

Meanwhile, Trump will appear at 7 p.m. at Hertz Arena in Estero, with DeSantis on hand.

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