In two of the hottest Republican primaries in Central Florida, BusinessForce has decided to back the incumbents, Bob Dallari and Lee Constantine, for Seminole County Commission.
The independent, pro-business group seeking to be a public voice of Central Florida was spun off from the Orlando Chamber of Commerce a few years ago. It announced a long list of endorsements Wednesday for state and local elections across Seminole, Orange, and Osceola counties. Mostly, the group is backing incumbents, and mostly Republicans, with a few exceptions.
The Seminole County Commission District 1 and District 3 races were not among the exceptions. Dallari and Constantine, both longtime public figures in the county, are facing intense primary election competition this year from rising figures in local Republican politics, Longwood Mayor Matt Morgan and Longwood City Commissioner Ben Paris. The BusinessForce endorsements continue the alignment of the county’s business establishment behind the incumbents.
After the August 18 primaries, the winners will face Democrats Katrina Shadix in District 1 and Kim Buchheit in District 3.
BusinessForce also went with Republican former Rep. Jason Brodeur for the open Senate District 9 seat and Democratic Sen. Randolph Bracy for reelection in Senate District 11. The organization did not make a pick in Senate District 13, where Democratic Sen. Linda Stewart faces Republican Josh Anderson.
In Florida House races, BusinessForce endorsed the reelections of Republican Reps. David Smith in District 28, Scott Plakon in District 29, Josie Tomkow in District 39, and Rene Plasencia in District 50. The organization chose Republican challenger and former Rep. Bob Cortes over Democratic Rep. Joy Goff-Marcil in District 30, and Republican challenger Bruno Portigliatti over Democratic Rep. Geraldine Thompson in District 44.
In House districts with open seats, BusinessForce is backing Republican Keith Truenow in District 31, Republican Fred Hawkins in District 42, Democrat Kristen Arrington in District 43, and Democrat Julio Rocha in District 48. Hawkins was recently suspended from office from the Osceola County Commission and is facing a felony charge of impersonating a law enforcement officer.
BusinessForce did not make picks in House District 47, or 49, where Democratic Reps. Anna V. Eskamani and Carlos Guillermo Smith are seeking reelection.
In Orange County, BusinessForce is endorsing the reelections of Betsy VanderLey and Mayra Uribe to the Orange County Commission in Districts 1 and 3, and former Rep. Mike Miller for District 5, over incumbent Commissioner Emily Bonilla and challenger Anjali Vaya. The group also endorsed the reelection of Democratic Sheriff John Mina.
In Osceola County, the organization endorsed Democratic challenger Mike Fisher over incumbent Democratic Sheriff Russ Gibson and two other candidates. It also is endorsing the reelection of County Commissioner Peggy Choudhry in District 1 and Republican Ricky Booth for an open seat in District 5. BusinessForce did not announce an endorsement in District 3, where Commissioner Brandon Arrington is seeking reelection.
In Seminole County, in addition to offering the Dallari and Constantine endorsements, BusinessForce is backing the reelection of Sheriff Dennis Lemma. The organization did not make an endorsement in the Commission District 5 race.