Former Florida Democratic Party Chair Bob Poe, who was a top fundraiser in Central Florida until he moved to California in 2019, is back raising money for Florida Democrats.
Poe and his husband, Kenneth Brown, will host a fundraiser at their Los Angeles home Wednesday night for former Orlando State Attorney Aramis Ayala, who is running for the open seat in Florida’s 10th Congressional District.
“We’ve opened up the West Coast office of the Florida Democratic Party’s fundraising operations,” Poe quipped Tuesday. “So many politicians come to California to raise money, particularly Southern California.”
Poe said since they moved to California, he and Brown have hosted occasional fundraisers, including for U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and state Rep. Anna V. Eskamani, but they’ve been few and far between, as Poe had tried to more or less retire from political activity. That’s changing now, though, he said, and he expects to be fully active this cycle.
“My phone’s been kinda ringing off the hook with several candidates,” he said.
Ayala is in a free-for-all battle for the CD 10 seat, which is being vacated by Democratic U.S. Rep. Val Demings, who is running for the Senate instead of for reelection. Demings was first elected to that office in 2016 after defeating Poe in the Democratic Primary.
Other Democrats running in CD 10 this year include state Sen. Randolph Bracy, progressive activist Maxwell Alejandro Frost, the Rev. Terence Gray, civil rights lawyer Natalie Jackson, and teacher Teresa Tachon. Republican candidates include nonprofit executive Willie Montague and Mahendranath Troy Rambaransingh.
The CD 10 seat most likely will be claimed by the winner of the 2022 Democratic Primary. Currently the district, which covers western Orange County, is strongly Democratic in voter registration. The district will be redrawn through reapportionment, but Republicans are expected to try to engineer gains in two neighboring congressional districts, so CD 10 could be more positioned to gain Democratic advantage, not lose it.
Ayala’s California fundraiser starts with a minimum contribution of $250 and goes up to $5,800 for platinum levels.
The special guest at the fundraiser will be Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón. He is both a rising star in California progressive Democratic politics as a criminal justice reformer like Ayala, and — like Ayala — a lightning rod of controversy, partly because of his opposition to the death penalty.