Democratic House candidate Rita Harris has received the endorsements of Democratic Sen. Victor Torres and Orange County Property Appraiser Amy Mercado for the House District 44 seat.
Harris, a former Orange County Democratic Party officer, is taking on Democratic incumbent Rep. Daisy Morales in the newly reconfigured HD 44, which has a strong Democratic base.
Torres’ endorsement already was a given, since he helped Harris open her campaign in March. Mercado, Torres’ daughter, adds an exclamation point to Harris’ effort to demonstrate Puerto Rican backing in a district that has a large Puerto Rican population.
Morales, who essentially moved from an area that fell into the new House District 43 in this year’s redistricting so that she could run as incumbent HD 44, is Puerto Rican. She also has earned the endorsement of Florida’s only Puerto Rican member of Congress, Democratic Rep. Darren Soto of Kissimmee.
“Rita Harris has been a longtime community activist, a Democratic Women’s Club president and has the experience and knowledge to best represent the interest of the residents in this district,” Torres said in a news release issued by Harris’ campaign. “That is why I am proud to endorse Rita Harris for Florida State House District 44 and encourage voters to support her in the upcoming election.”
“Rita Harris is the champion we need fighting for us in Tallahassee,” Mercado said. “As a longtime Democratic activist, she is ready to represent our interests in Tallahassee. She will work to protect a woman’s right to make her own healthcare decisions and stand up for our LGBTQ community. As someone that formerly represented parts of this district in Tallahassee, I know Rita is the Democrat we need representing our community.”
The new HD 44 was carved from a western portion of Morales’ old House District 48 and the eastern portion of Democratic state Rep. Geraldine Thompson’s old House District 44. That created a district that consolidates the south-central Orange communities of Williamsburg, Meadow Woods, Hunters Creek, Southchase and Taft with the Dr. Phillips area to the west and part of Lake Nona to the east.
The new boundaries also contain several huge economic engines, notably Universal Orlando, International Drive, SeaWorld, and Orlando International Airport, as well as much of Orlando’s manufacturing and warehousing industry corridor. Together, they make HD 44 valuable in economic power, and therefore in political power.
The district appears to have a strong Democratic lean, based on results of the past two General Elections. No Republicans have filed yet to run there.