Democratic Sen. Victor Torres has endorsed retired Navy officer Tom Keen for the open House District 35 seat in Osceola and Orange counties.
Keen is one of three Democrats running for the new territory. It is a dramatic new hybrid of one district that used to cover most of Osceola County and two others that covered southern and eastern Orange. HD 35 covers most of rural Osceola and a large swath of southern and eastern Orange from Lake Nona to Waterford Lakes and east to Brevard County.
Torres’ Senate District covers much of the area, including all of Osceola and southern Orange.
Keen, of Orlando, is an aerospace business manager, retired Navy flight officer, and longtime fixture in Orlando civics.
“Tom is the best qualified person to represent voters in District 35,” Torres said in a news release issued by Keen’s campaign. “His military experience and continued service to the city of Orlando on the Citizen’s Police Review Board demonstrate his commitment, knowledge, and passion to represent our community. He is my choice for District 35.”
In the August 23 Democratic Primary Election, Keen faces Rishi Singh Bagga of Orlando and Tahitiana Alejandra Chaffin of St. Cloud.
Incumbent Republican Rep. Fred Hawkins of St. Cloud leads a Republican field that includes Kenneth Davenport of Orlando and Dianna Liebnitzky of St. Cloud.
Based on results of the last couple of elections, the new district appears to have a slight Democratic lean.
“I’m running to fund our public schools, protect our environment, and help Florida make brighter choices for our future,” Keen said.
“Floridians are struggling with high cost of fuel today, but Fred Hawkins and Republicans in the Florida House voted to delay the Gas Tax Holiday until right before the November election — we need relief now — not a bribe in October,” Keen continued. “May and November are the two months with the fewest tourists — if Republicans were serious about tax relief instead of bribing voters, they would have provided critical tax relief this month.”