Daisy Morales, Rita Harris roll out competing endorsements in HD 44

Daisy Morales and Rita Harris
Democratic Primary Election opponents are pulling in endorsements.

Rep. Daisy Morales and challenger Rita Harris rolled out several more endorsements each in their battle for the Democratic Primary Election in the new House District 44 in Orange County.

Morales, seeking a second term, announced endorsements from Democratic Rep. Kristen Arrington from neighboring House District 46, Democratic Rep. Susan Valdés of Tampa, former Democratic Rep. Bruce Antone of Orlando, former Democratic Rep. John Cortes of Kissimmee and Democratic Ocoee District 4 City Commissioner George Oliver.

Harris countered with her endorsements from Orange County School Board member Karen Castor Dentel, a former state Representative; Democratic congressional candidate Maxwell Frost in Florida’s 10th Congressional District and former state House candidate and community activist Samuel Vilchez Santiago.

Morales and Harris are facing off for a south-central Orange district that appears to have a very strong Democratic lean in the voter rolls, based on results of the past couple of General Elections.

There are no Republicans running yet in the district.

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.

Morales touted her endorsers as people who share her passion and leadership for promoting education and family.

“These leaders share my vision of working across the aisle and using commonsense solutions to get results for Florida families,” Morales said in a news release issued by her campaign.

“Morales is deeply rooted in the community,” Cortes said in the release. “She’s a strong advocate for those who can’t speak for themselves, which is exactly what we need in Tallahassee.”

Harris has been a leader in the Orange County Democratic Party and co-founder and president of the Democratic Women’s Club of South Orange County.

“They know I will stand up for our Democratic values and be our voice in Tallahassee to fight for affordable housing, fully fund our public schools, increase teacher pay, protect a woman’s right to choose, and pass policies that deliver economic relief to our families,” Harris said in a news release from her campaign.

In Harris’ news release, Castor Dentel said, “Rita Harris will work for our teachers, schools, and students in Tallahassee and I am proud to endorse her for House District 44. As a mother, Rita understands that every child should have a quality education regardless of what neighborhood they live in. I know Rita will work to strengthen public education and will be a great ally in Tallahassee.”

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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