Jason Brodeur draws Primary challenger in SD 10
Jason Brodeur. Image via Colin Hackley.

Denali Aziza Charres from Longwood filed to run as a Republican in SD 10.

Republican Sen. Jason Brodeur may get Primaried before he has a chance to advance to what is expected to be one of Florida’s marquee elections in the Legislature, against Democratic Rep. Joy Goff-Marcil in Senate District 10.

On Tuesday, Denali Aziza Charres from Longwood filed to run as a Republican in SD 10. If she qualifies for the ballot this week, she would Primary Brodeur in the district spanning Seminole County and part of northern Orange County.

Seminole County Republicans were raising eyebrows Tuesday about Charres’ candidacy in a county that still is reeling from ramifications of a “ghost candidacy” in the 2020 elections.

Records show that Charres is a fairly new Republican, a fairly new resident of Seminole and apparently new to the attention of the county’s Republican leadership. Brodeur is entrenched in the Seminole Republican establishment. His last election included someone alleged to be a ghost candidate aimed at siphoning votes from his Democratic opponent.

Reached briefly on the phone, Charres said she would call back later to discuss her candidacy.

A LinkedIn profile shows a Denali Charres as a registered nurse and a school nurse

Brodeur responded to his challenger Tuesday with a text reading, “LOL. Everyone is welcome to run and we look forward to the mainstream media’s thorough vetting of this DEM’s newfound home in the GOP.”

Voter registration records show that Charres is a former Democrat who switched to no party affiliation in 2019 and then to Republican in 2020.

Those records also show her voting residency moved back and forth between Osceola and Orange counties a couple of times between 2015 and 2019, before moving to Seminole in 2021.

Brodeur noted voting records show that she has voted once over the past three election cycles.

Brodeur still is fending off fallout from the 2020 campaign in which Republican operatives allegedly illegally aided an independent candidate with intentions of helping Brodeur win.

In May, the 2020 independent Senate District 9 candidate Jestine Iannotti of Winter Springs, the Seminole County Republican Party Chair Ben Paris and campaign consultant Eric Foglesong all were indicted and face various counts involving election fraud.

In announcing the indictments, Florida’s 18th Judicial Circuit State Attorney Phil Archer referenced “ghost candidates.” That term refers to someone who is recruited to run — but who does not actually run a competitive campaign — simply to complicate or even compromise elections for some other candidate.

Archer noted that ghost candidates are not illegal. But he charged that Iannotti, Paris and Foglesong broke election laws in developing the campaign.

Paris had worked for Brodeur at the Seminole County Chamber of Commerce, but he resigned that job shortly after he was indicted in May on a misdemeanor count of making an election contribution through the name of another.

Last week, the Seminole Republican Executive Committee board voted to relieve Paris of his day-to-day duties as county Republican Chair.

Charres would not be able to draw any votes from Brodeur’s Democratic opponent, likely to be Goff-Marcil, unless Charres wins the Aug. 23 Republican Primary Election against Brodeur. Otherwise, her candidacy would end in the Primary.

Yet Seminole Republicans raising questions about her candidacy say she could force Brodeur to spend time, effort and money running a Primary campaign in advance of what is likely to be a high-stakes General Election matchup. They advised they would be on the lookout for any third-party spending to support her, as often happens in so-called ghost candidate cases, and as happened with Iannotti.

Goff-Marcil’s campaign manager Isabelle Pierson sought to turn the Primary opponent news into an opportunity to hit Brodeur over the indictments from the 2020 independent candidacy.

“It looks like even Republicans are waking up to the fact that Jason Brodeur at best affiliates himself with criminals and election tampering crooks, and at worst played a part in their illegal actions,” Pierson said in a statement.

Seminole State Committeewoman Jesse Phillips reacted much as Brodeur did, essentially with a shrug.

“We’ve always known ghost candidates are a bipartisan phenomenon,” Phillip said in a text. “Everyone has a right to run for whatever office they choose and commit as much or as little time and resources to campaigning as they choose.”

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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