Geraldine Thompson squeaks out reelection in HD 44

Geraldine Thompson
Defeats Republican Bruno Portigliatti.

Democratic Rep. Geraldine Thompson held onto her seat in House District 44 in Tuesday’s election.

Thompson, of Orlando, defeated Republican businessman Bruno Portigliatti, 52% to 48%, based on unofficial early returns.

The victory gives Thompson a second term in HD 44 after she had previously served in House District 39 and then in the Florida Senate.

Tuesday’s election was another setback for Orange County Republicans, who saw in Portigliatti a candidate who appealed to more of the base of the party than state Rep. Bobby Olszewski had. Thompson ousted Olszewski to flip the seat in 2018.

Portigliatti had tried to paint Thompson as a career politician, but she made that work in some ways. While insisting she also is a businesswoman — she founded and runs the Wells’ Built Museum of African American History and Culture in Parramore — Thompson maintained she has the skills to speak to voters from either end of the district’s economic spectrum.

HD 44 covers most of southwestern Orange County. It takes in lower-income communities on Orlando’s southwest side; some of the most affluent areas in Central Florida, in Windermere and Bay Hill; all or parts of the suburbs of Oakland, Ocoee and Winter Garden; and almost the entire tourism corridor of Orange County, including Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, SeaWorld Orlando, and International Drive.

The voting populous is evenly split, with Republicans holding a 1-point advantage in voter registrations, according to the latest book closing available through the Florida Division of Elections.

Until Thompson won in 2018, the district had been represented by Republicans for decades. It’s a district Republicans wanted back, and in Portigliatti they found someone with star quality.

Portigliatti is a lawyer and business owner. He runs several family businesses including the private Florida Christian University in Orlando.

He ran for HD 44 previously, losing to Olszewski in the Republican primary for a special election to fill the vacant seat in 2017.

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]


One comment

  • Brenda Heistand

    November 4, 2020 at 8:22 pm

    Bruno is a warm and caring individual who personally knocked on over 20 thousand resident doors in district 44. He is a savvy and successful business entrepreneur
    who wants to help small businesses in his district be successful. In addition he is willing to help anyone with an “open door” policy to everyone in his district. It is our loss that he was not granted the opportunity to serve as our state congressman in district 44! Now that he is known to so many of the district 44 residents, both rich and poor, hopefully he will run again in two years and be given the opportunity to serve the people in our district that he so passionately wants to help.

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