Orange Co. Republican insiders pick Yukong Zhao, Jose Castillo, Vennia Francois

Jose Castillo
Straw poll results are in; here are the results.

Straw poll results from the Orange County Republican Party’s in-person U.S. Grant Republican Victory Convention in Orlando Saturday night picked Republican candidates Yukong Zhao, Jose Castillo, and Vennia Francois in area congressional races.

The poll came after most Republican candidates appeared and spoke at the convention, which drew just shy of 100 people at the Rosen Plaza Hotel. The event had been postponed from the spring due to the coronavirus crisis.

Orange County party insiders also showed preferences in the straw poll for Benny Valentin over Fred Hawkins in the House District 42 contest; Bruno Portigliatti over Frank Blanco in House District 44; and Anjali Vaya over former Rep. Mike Miller for the Orange County Commission District 5 seat.

Zhao got the crowd’s backing for his campaign in Florida’s 7th Congressional District, with 60% of the straw poll vote, after he gave what some in the audience said was one of the most passionate speeches of the night for conservative politics. He topped Richard Goble, who drew 24%. A third CD 7 Republican candidate, Dr. Leo Valentin, was a no-show due to a family emergency, and got 16%.

The winner of that primary will face Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park in November.

Castillo took 56% of the vote after he spoke. His August 18 Republican primary opponents, Bill Olson and Christopher Wright were no-shows citing Hurricane Isiais’ looming threat. Wright, who’d been called to report to Army National Guard duty, finished second with 37% of the vote.

The winner of that primary will face Democratic Rep. Darren Soto of Kissimmee in November.

In the Republican primary contest for Florida’s 10th Congressional District, the straw poll gave Francois 74%, compared with Willie Montague‘s 25%.

The winner of that primary will likely face Democratic Rep. Val Demings of Orlando in November, unless Demings has to withdraw from that contest to be former Vice President Joe Biden‘s running mate.

The Orange County Republican Executive Committee only put candidates on the ballot if they registered for the convention. Thus, some contests, such as Florida’s 8th Congressional District, were not featured in the straw poll. Nor were some Republican candidates.

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected].


  • gwen

    August 4, 2020 at 6:30 pm

    Democrat Platform & Goals: (Do you know?)

    *Massive tax increases. All Democrat candidates have committed to tax increases of various amounts. Biden has stated he will raise taxes to over 71 trillion. With his platform, he will have to.

    *Sanctuary Cities & States. Joe Biden supports sanctuary cities.

    *Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Green new deal.(which would create massive unemployment, 100,000 jobs estimated in the transportation industry alone.) Biden supports.

    *Citizenship for 20 to 50 million illegal aliens, DACA, TPS recipients and their families with a cost of billions.

    *Free Healthcare for Illegal aliens, DACA, TPS recipients (taxpayer funded with one estimate at 52 trillion) Joe Biden endorsed.

    *Reparations for race’s harmed by Caucasians. Joe Biden committed to support Sheila Jackson Lee’s reparations bill in the House. Basically a tax will be levied on all Caucasians in America. (you can’t make this stuff up)

    *De-fund & terminate border patrol & ICE.

    * Climate Change: Biden climate change plan will cost trillions of tax dollars & jobs.

    * Biden will attack the Second Amendment (as it is now) Biden has stated Beto O’Rourke will be his gun Czar “Hell yeah I’m coming for your guns.”

    *De-fund Police. Kamala Harris called it “re-imagine law enforcement” in the senate. Biden recently stated he was in favor, quote “redirecting law enforcement finds.” Biden will do what the far left wants.

    *Ending of all private / employer based health care. “Medicare for all”, Feds run everything.

    *Illegal Aliens eligible for welfare & food stamps. (Elizabeth Warren’s plan adopted) Endorsed by Biden.

    *Free college for all, including illegal aliens (taxpayer funded with estimates in the billions. Bernie Sanders plan adopted.

    *Decriminalization of illegal entry into our country.

    *Open Borders.

    *End all deportations of illegal aliens, if you get here, you stay. Bernie’s website calls it a “moratorium” on deportations.

    *Drivers Licenses for illegal aliens (already happening in states with Democrat leadership. Biden endorsed

    * Destruction and erasing our history.

    Democrats want to make this election all about President Trump. NOT their platform & Goals for obvious reasons.


    August 4, 2020 at 6:33 pm

    How do you like Democrat Socialism so far? PORT, NY, CHI, ATL, WA, DC Minneapolis just to mention a few. All Democrat leadership did the same thing, allowing the rioters to destroy.

    If Joe Biden is elected President America will be on fire…..only Biden won’t send federal officers.

    Democrat Mayors ordering police to stand down while the city is looted, burned. citizens beaten in the streets, monuments destroyed, police stations attacked taken over and allowed to be occupied. Antifa and BLM founder is a Marxist, (the media is hiding this fact) are the criminals behind this and the Democrat city and state leaders are complicit.

    Biden stated he’s going to “transform America” If you vote for Joe Biden it will be for a far left platform.. Joe will follow the radical left’s agenda or Joe won’t get the support (and he is) of Nancy Pelosi, Bernie Sanders, Karen Bass (Leader Congressional Black Caucus), llhan Omar, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Val Demings, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Valerie Jarrett,. Rashida Talib, Stacy Abrams, Ayanna Pressley, Nancy Pelosi, Sheila Jackson Lee, Tom Perez, Maxine Waters, Pramila Jayapal.

    This is the core of the socialists wing of the Democrat party and is firmly in charge, not old , confused Joe Biden. Biden will be a puppet to a liberal Vice President and those mentioned above.) Socialist llhan Omar stated recently, she will support Biden who has “one of the most progressive platforms in the history of the Democrat party.” He does

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