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CD 10 Republican nominee Vennia Francois, JC 9 State Attorney nominee Monique Worrell, Orange County Property Appraiser Democratic nominee Amy Mercado.

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Women dominate Election Day in Central Florida

In Central Florida, viable women candidates just about all won.

Tuesday was a very, very good day for women candidates in Central Florida primary elections.

It seemed wherever there was a viable female candidate, she won Tuesday.

From Monique Worrell winning the State Attorney Democratic primary across Orange and Osceola Counties, to district races for County Commission and School Board seats, women almost always defeated men, sometimes several men, all across Central Florida. Only rarely did women lose to men Tuesday.

Worrell topped two men, former Judge Belvin Perry Jr. and career prosecutor Ryan Williams, plus another woman, Chief Assistant State Attorney Deborah Barra, to win the State Attorney contest in Florida’s 9th Judicial Circuit. Since there is only an independent running against her in the General Election, Worrell is the heavy favorite to claim the office.

Former Rep. Amy Mercado defeated incumbent Orange County Property Appraiser Rick Singh and business owner Khalid Muneer in the Democratic primary. Since there are only write-in candidates in the November election, Mercado has essentially won the job.

Vennia Francois, the only woman challenger running for Congress in any of the four Central Florida primaries, defeated Willie Montague in the Republican primary in Florida’s 10th Congressional District in western Orange County. She’ll face Democratic U.S. Rep. Val Demings in November.

Patricia Sigman defeated three men and another woman to win the Democratic primary to run in state Senate District 9, easily dispatching Alexis Carter, Rick Ashby, H. Alexander Duncan, and Guerdy Remy. She’ll face Republican former state Rep. Jason Brodeur in November.

Kristen Arrington was elected to represent Florida House District 43, defeating four men and another woman in the Osceola County district. She bested Alex Barrio, Carlos Irizarry, Andrew Jeng, Ricardo Rangel, and Tamika Lyles. There are no other candidates, so she has won the seat.

Pasha Baker defeated Lee Mangold in the Democratic primary for Florida House District 28. She’ll face Republican Rep. David Smith in November.

Crissy Stile defeated another woman, Debra Kaplin, to win the Democratic primary in House District 31 primary in eastern Lake and northwestern Orange counties. She’ll face Republican Keith Truenow in November.

Stephanie Dukes defected Ryan Morales and Linda Kero in the Democratic Primary in House District 32 in Lake County. She’ll face Republican Rep. Anthony Sabatini in November.

Rep. Geraldine Thompson easily won her Democratic primary against Andy Farrell in House District 44. She’ll face Republican Bruno Portigliatti in November.

Daisy Morales defeated four men in the Democratic primary in House District 48, topping Nelson Pena, Julio Rocha, Tony Tsonis, and Samuel Vilchez Santiago. She’ll face Republican Jesus Martinez in November.

Nicole Wilson, incumbent Commissioner Mayra Uribe, and incumbent Commissioner Emily Bonilla all won Orange County Commission elections. Wilson’s contest was against another woman, incumbent Commissioner Betsy VanderLey. Uribe beat two men, former Commissioner Pete Clarke and Bill Moore. Bonilla beat one of each, Mike Miller one Anjali Vaya.

All the Orange County School Board races were won by women. Incumbent Board Member Pam Gould beat Prince Brown and Dayne GautVicki-Elaine Felder beat former state Rep. Bruce Antone, Michael Scott, and Vibert White. Incumbent Board Member Karen Castor Dentel defeated Kelvin Cobaris and Jonathan Hacker. Incumbent Board Member Melissa Mitchell Byrd defeated Todd Michael Lamphere, Ericka Bell, and Jeannetta Maxena.

In Osceola County, incumbent Commissioner Peggy Choudhry defeated former Kissimmee Mayor Jose Alvarez and Michael Hartford in the Democratic primary. She faces only a write-in candidate in November.

Incumbent Osceola County Supervisor of Elections Mary Jane Arrington defeated Jaime Matos and Luis Puig in the Democratic primary. She’ll face independent candidate Beulah Farfquharson in November.

The exceptions were rare and found in Republican primary contests.

Webster Barnaby defeated two women, Erika Benfield and Zenaida Denizac, to win the Republican primary in House District 27 in southern Volusia County. He’ll face Democrat Dolores Guzman in November.

Fred Hawkins Jr. defeated one woman, Dianna Liebnitzky, and two men, Gary Scott and Benny Valentin to win the Republican primary in House District 42 in Osceola and Polk counties. He’ll face Democrat Barbara Cady in November.

Rep. Randy Fine defeated Marcie Adkins in the Republican primary in Florida House District 52 in southern Brevard County. He’ll face Democrat Phil Moore in November.

Written By

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 scott@floridapolitics.com.

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