Republican Rep. Scott Plakon accused his Democratic rival Tracey Kagan of ties to a “radical, left-wing abortion group.”
Kagan accused Plakon of anti-Semitism.
That was during the first week of their campaign — days after Kagan filed for a rematch of the 2018 battle between the two for House District 28, just about exactly one year out from Tuesday’s General Election.
The battle for HD 29 in western Seminole County has been no less contentious since. Both candidates have flung vicious accusations at each other and each other’s records and background in a searing redo of the first contest that ended with Plakon winning a squeaker, 51% to 49%.
Republicans have run ads making her look like a burning, looting, violent street protester. She trotted out a nasty Plakon family split, and his brother’s accusations against him. She accused him of turning his back on the health care needs of people with preexisting conditions. He called her a liar.
The HD 29 contest is tight and well-funded. It also has been backed by an infusion from the parties and from outside groups targeting it a key point in the battle for control of the Florida House of Representatives.
There also is an independent candidate in the HD 29 contest, Juan Rodriguez of Lake Mary.
HD 28 spreads across western Seminole County, including all or parts of Sanford, Lake Mary, Longwood, and the Wekiva Springs area. It’s entirely suburban and mostly affluent, with some working class neighborhoods. There are some significant African American communities, mainly in the Sanford and Forest City areas, and significant Hispanic, primarily Puerto Rican communities, mainly in Longwood and Forest City.
Republicans hold a 3-point lead in voter registration, according to the most recent book closing report from the Florida Division of Elections.
Beneath it is a battle between a generally amiable, respected, conservative lawmaker, family man, and publisher from Lake Mary with five terms in the Florida House [including two representing another district] and a charismatic criminal defense lawyer and former prosecutor, mother, and businesswoman from Longwood.
Plakon is an unabashed Christian conservative. This year he has staked out strong conservative values on many of those issues and on matters of law and order. Yet he also touts his record of effective bipartisan moderation, arguing he has sought and made deals to bring assistance to those in need, such as families facing Alzheimer’s disease, which claimed his first wife in 2018.
Kagan contends the district’s economic and cultural diversity are not well represented by a fundamental conservative. While maintaining her own strong commitments to moderate causes like law and order, she has been unabashed in claiming social progressive positions on issues from women’s rights to racial injustice, environmental protection to support for public education.
Both have sought to make the health and economic crises of the COVID-19 pandemic central to their appeals.
Kagan said that’s the issue people want to talk about most with her, that they’re frustrated not enough is being done to keep them safe, and to recognize and provide aid for the serious economic challenges including closed businesses, lost jobs, evictions, foreclosures, and unemployment.
“That really still is the number one concern,” she said.
Plakon seeks to convince voters that his experience and his record for effectively reaching across the aisle are needed now, for these crises, more than ever.