Rachel Plakon continues big buildup for HD 29 campaign
Rachel Plakon gets an early head start.

Rachel Plakon
Rep. Anna Eskamani's political committee also raked it in.

Republican Rachel Plakon continued in February to build a big base to try to keep the House District 29 seat in the family.

Plakon reported raising $25,125 for her official campaign fund in February. She also raised 21,000 for her independent committee, Friends of Rachel Plakon. In just two months on the trail, that gives her just under $76,000 for her official campaign and $48,600 in the independent committee, heading into March.

The HD 29 seat will be vacated in 2022 by her husband Republican Rep. Scott Plakon, due to term limits. No other candidates have stepped up yet for the northwestern Seminole County district.

She had started big in January, with $50,000 her first month on the trail. Her February haul, which included 19 maximum $1,000 checks to her campaign from a pretty even mix of individuals, businesses, and political committees, was again was the largest campaign fundraising effort of any House or Senate candidates throughout Central Florida.

Yet the biggest haul overall was amassed by someone who has not yet filed to run for reelection: Democratic Rep. Anna V. Eskamani of Orlando, who represents House District 47 in central Orange County.

She has not yet raised any money for a reelection campaign, but in February Eskamani reported raising $96,000 for her independent committee People Power for Florida. That included a $50,000 check from former Orlando Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy.

She said last week those funds will go toward a statewide voter registration effort. The avowed progressive firebrand has never been coy about her ambitions for higher office, and her name has been raised as a possible Democratic candidate for Governor.

Only one clearly competitive race has set up yet for the 2022 elections for legislature seats in Central Florida, Senate District 13. That district currently covers much of central and eastern Orange County, but is a prime target for redistricting, so the two high-profile candidates might not both be in the district come 2022.

Incumbent Democratic Sen. Linda Stewart of Orlando picked up her reelection campaign’s first $6,250 in that race. She also spent just over $2,000, so she held a modest $4,200 sum heading into March. Stewart normally doesn’t raise or spend much money in her elections, relying more on a renowned volunteer ground game. But the $2,000 she spent in February was on fundraising consultation.

Republican state Rep. Rene Plasencia of Orlando, who filed last month in SD 13, reported raising an initial $2,000 for his campaign.

In the only partisan contested House race in Central Florida so far, Republican Rep. Anthony Sabatini, announced earlier this week that he will run for Congress in Florida’s 11th Congressional District instead of for reelection. He nonetheless reported raising $3,278 for a reelection campaign in House District 32, where he represents much of Lake County. Sabatini had about $17,000 in that state campaign account at the end of February.

Democratic challenger Stephanie Dukes of Clermont, who lost to Sabatini last November, reported picking up $105 in February to start a new campaign for the HD 32 seat.

The only other contested legislative races in Central Florida thus far involve Democratic primary challengers.

In central Orange County’s House District 46, Democratic Rep. Travaris McCurdy of Orlando raised his first $8,050 toward reelection in February. Democratic challenger Cynthia Harris of Orlando did not raise any money in February, but holds about $2,300 in the bank.

In Osceola County’s House District 43, Democratic Rep. Kristen Arrington of Kissimmee reported raising $500 in February and ending the month with $2,600 in the bank. Her Democratic challenger Anthony Nieves of Kissimmee has yet to report raising any money.

The rest of the legislative seats in Central Florida remain uncontested.

— Republican Sen. Jason Brodeur of Sanford reported raising $13,500 in February for his official campaign toward reelection in Senate District 13 in Seminole County, and another $24,500 for his independent committee, Friends of Jason Brodeur. He entered March with $24,000 in his official campaign and another $36,000 in his independent committee.

— Democratic Sen. Randolph Bracy of Windermere raised his first $7,650 for his reelection campaign in Senate District 11 in western Orange County.

— Republican Sen. Dennis Baxley of Ocala reported raising $2,000 in February for his reelection campaign in Senate District 12, covering much of western Central Florida. He’s got about $3,800 in that fund.

— Republican Sen. Tom Wright of New Smyrna Beach reported raising just $500 in February for his reelection campaign in Senate District 14, covering northern Brevard County and Volusia County. His campaign fund had about $11,000 heading into March.

— Democratic Sen. Victor Torres of Orlando did not report raising any money in February. His reelection campaign for Senate District 15, covering southern Orange and Osceola counties, had $20,000 at the end of February.

— Republican Rep. Webster Barnaby of Deltona reported raising $16,300 in February for his reelection bid in western Volusia County’s House District 27. That provided him with a total of $18,000 at the end of the month.

— Republican Rep. David Smith of Winter Springs reported raising $17,500 in February for his reelection bid in eastern Seminole County’s House District 28. He ended the month with about $25,600 in the bank.

— Democratic Rep. Joy Goff-Marcil of Maitland reported raising $2,000 in February for her reelection bid in House District 30, which covers parts of southern Seminole and northern Orange counties. She has about $21,600 in the bank.

— Republican Rep. Keith Truenow of Tavares reported raising $11,500 in February for reelection in House District 31, covering northwestern Orange and northeastern Lake counties. He entered March with about $15,000.

— Republican Rep. Fred Hawkins of St. Cloud reported raising $12,000 in February for a reelection bid in House District 42, covering much of Osceola and parts of eastern Polk County. He entered March with about $13,000 in the bank.

— Democratic Rep. Kristen Arrington of Kissimmee reported raising just $500 in February for her reelection campaign in House District 43, covering northwestern Osceola County. She entered March with $2,600 in the bank.

— Democratic Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith of Orlando reported raising just $500 in February for his reelection bid in House District 49 in northeastern Orange County. Smith entered March with about $9,700 in the bank.

— Republican Rep. Tyler Sirois of Merritt Island did not report raising any money in February for his reelection bid in House District 51 in central Brevard County. He entered March with $10,800 in the bank.

— Republican Rep. Randy Fine reported raising $19,400 in February for his reelection bid in House District 53, covering southern Brevard County. His campaign entered March with about $23,100.

Three Democratic Representatives and one Republican Representative have yet to raise any money toward 2022 reelection bids: Democratic Reps. Geraldine Thompson of Orlando for House District 44 in western Orange, Kamia Brown of Ocoee for House District 45 in eastern Orange; and Daisy Morales of Orlando for House District 48 in eastern Orange; and Republican Rep. Thad Altman of Indalantic for House District 52 in central Brevard.

Republican Christopher Wright of Orlando has opened a campaign account to run for House District 50 in eastern Orange and northern Brevard, but he has not reported raising any money.

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]



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