Republican Rich Santos names campaign committee for HD 36 run

Richard Santos
In GOP battle with Rachel Plakon, Santos brings on Scott Plakon's former sister-in-law to help with campaign.

Republican Rich Santos has refiled his House candidacy for House District 36 in Seminole County and announced a campaign committee to support his efforts.

Santos, a master deputy in the Orange County Sheriff’s Office and a military veteran from Longwood, is competing with Rachel Plakon of Lake Mary in the Republican Primary Election for the newly-created district. HD 36 will serve most of the same Seminole County area being vacated by her husband, Republican Rep. Scott Plakon, who is leaving the old House District 29 due to term limits.

Santos’ campaign committee will be chaired by Debi Rushing Stolte, sister of Scott Plakon’s late first wife, Suzanne Rushing Plakon, who died of Alzheimer’s disease four years ago.

Rachel Plakon has a commanding advantage in campaign money, but Santos said he is countering with grassroots efforts organized through his new committee.

“I’ve helped people win these races. Rich has what it takes to win, but more importantly, Rich is the most qualified candidate in the race,” Stolte said in a news release issued by Santos’ campaign. “He has the experience and he has what it takes to lead on day one.”

The committee includes Matt Arena of Lake Mary, John Barrett of Oviedo, Matt Depew of Longwood, Bailey Granier of Sanford, Simon Heiblum of Lake Mary, Michael Johnson of Altamonte Springs, Ted Jones of Winter Springs, Terry Loyd of Altamonte Springs, Gerald Martin of Lake Mary, Don Menzel of Winter Springs, the Rev. Victor Montalvo of Sanford, Ami Nibanupudy of Lake Mary, Kelly Shilson of Longwood, Michael Viera of Orlando, Brittany Walker of Lake Mary and Rich Wise of Lake Mary.

Santos filed paperwork Friday to transfer his candidacy from HD 29, as Plakon had done earlier this month.

HD 36 will represent northern Seminole, including Lake Mary, Sanford, Longwood, Geneva and part of Winter Springs and Altamonte Springs.

The district may have a slight Democratic lean in voter registration, based on results of the past two general elections. The only Democrat who had filed for the old HD 29, Luke Dowe of Longwood, has not made a move yet to refile.

“I’ve been serving our country and our community for 32 years. I am grateful for the service of Rep. Plakon, but I am sure we can all agree that it is time for a new name and a fresh face in Tallahassee. I am the best qualified and most experienced candidate in this race. I am a longtime member of this community and I am not a part of the political establishment that citizens have grown weary of.”

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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