Republicans pour support into Susan Plasencia’s challenge of Carlos Guillermo Smith

Smith Susan-Plasencia ART
The Smith-Plasencia contest is one of several high-profile races expected in Seminole County.

Susan Plasencia’s bid to challenge Democratic Rep Carlos Guillermo Smith in the new House District 37 spanning the eastern Orange-Seminole counties’ line received a shot of Republican backing in April, in the form of cash.

Less than two weeks ago Plasencia, of Orlando, received the endorsement of House Speaker-designate Paul Renner. That came with a $25,000 check on April 30 from the Florida House Republican Campaign Committee, which Renner chairs.

That helped Plasencia raise $38,674 in April, according to the latest postings on the Florida Division of Elections.

Smith, a three-term Representative of the Orange side of the new HD 37, is a leader of the House progressives, and a top bugaboo for many Republican lawmakers. He managed to collect $21,610 in April for his re-election bid.

The expected Plasencia-Smith General Election showdown looms as one of several potentially hot bipartisan contests for seats representing parts of Seminole County. Redistricting has created four districts across Seminole — including two shared with Orange. The districts all appear to have slight Democratic advantages in voter registration, based on the past couple of General Elections, yet Republicans have tended to dominate the county.

No Democrat has filed yet to run in House District 36, where Republican Rachel Plakon of Lake Mary has been building a formidable war chest, though she added little to it in April. Plakon faces only two nominal Republican challengers for the northern Seminole district.

Republican Rep. David Smith of Winter Springs added $19,340 to his formidable war chest seeking re-election in the new House District 38, covering south-central Seminole. He has a Republican and three Democrats challenging him, including Democrat Sarah Henry, who collected $21,302 in campaign donations during her first month on the trail, April.

House District 39, which is mostly in Orange around Apopka but also covers southwestern Seminole, has drawn three Republicans and two Democrats seeking an open seat. Republican Apopka Commissioner Doug Bankson is well ahead in the money chase there. He added $14,500 in April.

In HD 37, Plasencia now has raised $44,711. Her campaign entered May with about $40,000 in the bank. In addition to the Republican committee check, she received 32 other contributions, including six for the maximum donation of $1,000.

Carlos Smith’s haul came from 201 donations, including nine $1,000 checks. His re-election campaign now has raised $76,610, and entered May with about $54,000 in the bank. He also has an independent political committee, Floridians for Equality, which collected $6,025 in April, and entered May with about $9,700 in the bank.

Elsewhere across Seminole County:

— In HD 36, Plakon, wife of term-limited House District 29 incumbent Rep. Scott Plakon, raised $1,360 in April. Her campaign now has raised $189,946, including $10,000 she lent it. She entered May with about $164,000 in the bank. Plakon also has an independent political committee, Friends of Rachel Plakon. It did not raise any money in April, and entered May with about $66,000 in the bank.

Republican Angel Perry of Sanford raised $293 in April and entered May with about $2,000 in the bank. Republican Richard Santos of Sanford raised $290 in April and entered May with about $2,100 in the bank.

— In HD 38, David Smith raised $19,340 for his re-election bid. His campaign now has tallied $262,123 in donations, and entered May with about $200,000 in the bank. He also has an independent political committee, Friends of David Smith, which raised $3,500 in April and entered May with about $55,000 in the bank.

Henry, from Altamonte Springs, reported raising $21,302 in her first month on the trail, including a $1,000 check from Ruth’s List Florida. She came into May with about $19,000 of that in the bank. Republican Drake Wuertz of Altamonte Springs reported raising $2,815 in April. He entered May with just over $10,000 in his campaign account.

Democrat Ed Measom of Casselberry added only $400 to his campaign in April, and ended the month with about $8,800 in the bank. Democrat Mark Caruso of Winter Springs added no money to his account in April and entered May with no money in it.

— In HD 39, Bankson added $14,500, including a $1,000 loan, to his campaign account in April. His campaign entered May with about $61,000. He also has an independent political committee, Life and Liberty, which took in its first $100 in April.

Democrat Tiffany Hughes of Longwood raised $10,978 in April, and also received $2,754 in campaign staff support from the Florida Democratic Party. Her campaign entered May with about $36,000 in the bank. She also has an independent political committee, Community Florida, which collected $2,000 in April and entered May with about $7,100.

Republican Chuck Burt of Apopka reported lending his campaign $20,000 and collecting $715 in outside donations during April. His campaign fund entered May with just over $43,000 in the bank, including $40,000 he has lent his campaign.

Democrat Luke Dowe did not collect any new campaign funds in April. His campaign entered May with about $10,500, including $10,000 he lent his campaign.

Republican Charles Hart entered the HD 39 contest Thursday.

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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