Central Florida hoteliers announce new round of endorsements

Daisy Morales 2
The Central Florida Hotel and Lodging Association backed a bipartisan slate of candidates.

Democratic Rep. Daisy Morales, three other Democrats and two Republicans drew endorsements for their House races in the latest round from the Central Florida Hotel and Lodging Association (CFHLA).

Morales faces another Democrat, Rita Harris, in an open Primary Election on Aug. 23 for the seat representing House District 44 in south-central Orange County.

The new House endorsement, which officially come through the CFHLA’s political action committee and political committee, include four others who also have Primary Election battles on Aug. 23 for open seats: Republican Apopka City Commissioner Doug Bankson, Democrat LaVon Bracy Davis, Democrat Dan Marquith and Republican Bruno Portigliatti.

The association also endorsed Orange County School Board member Johanna López for an open House seat election. She already has the Democratic nomination so will not be on the August ballot. In November, she will face the winner of a Republican Primary Election.

In addition, the Central Florida Hotel and Lodging Association endorsed Roberta Walton Johnson for an open seat on the Orange County Commission, Orange County School Board member Angie Gallo for re-election, and Alicia Farrant for an open seat on the Orange County School Board.

“Each of these pro-hospitality candidates understand the importance of tourism and are eager to help find solutions to the challenges that we face as a region and as a state,” said Jay Leonard, general manager of the Wyndham Garden Lake Buena Vista Disney Springs Resort Area and chairman of the CFHLA PAC and PC.

Bankson is battling Republicans Charles Hart and Randy Ross in the Primary Election for House District 39, representing northwestern Orange County and southwestern Seminole. The winner would face Democratic nominee Tiffany Hughes in the General Election.

Bracy Davis is running against Democrat Melissa Myers in the Primary Election for House District 40 in western Orange. The winner matches up against Republican nominee Nate Robertson in the General Election.

In the General Election, López will face the Republican Primary Election winner, either Jay J. Rodriguez or Chris Wright, for House District 43 in east-central Orange.

Portigliatti is running against Carolina Amesty, Vennia Francois, Janet Frevola and Mike Zhao in the Republican Primary Election for House District 45 in southwestern Orange and northwestern Osceola County. The winner will go up against Democratic nominee Allie Braswell in the General Election.

Marquith is competing with Andrew Jeng and Anthony Nieves in the House District 47 Primary in Osceola. The winner faces Paula Stark in the General Election.

Walton Johnson is up against Rosemarie Diehl, Lawanna Gelzer, Cynthia HarrisNikki Mims McGee, Hedder Pierre-Joseph and Mike Scott in the Orange County Commission District 6 contest in western Orange County. If no one gets more than 50% of the votes, the top two vote-getters will advance to a runoff election in November.

Gallo is in a one-one-one race with Rachel Kirby for the Orange County School Board District 1 seat in eastern Orange.

Farrant faces Michael Daniels, Robert Lynn, Kila Murphey, Susanne Marie Pena and Dennis Smith for the Orange County School Board District 3 seat in south-central Orange.

In previous rounds of endorsements this year, the hotel association’s political committees endorsed the re-elections of Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, Orange Commissioner Christine Moore and Orange Commissioner Maribel Gomez Cordero, Osceola County Commissioner Viviana Janer, Osceola Commissioner Cheryl Grieb, Seminole County Commissioner Jay Zembower and Seminole Commissioner Amy Lockhart.

In Central Florida State Senate races, the CFHLA committees previously endorsed Republican Rep. Jason Brodeur and Democratic Rep. Kamia Brown. In other House races, previous endorsements went to Republican incumbents Keith Truenow, Fred Hawkins and David Smith Democratic Rep. Kristen Arrington.

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].


  • Elliott Offen

    July 19, 2022 at 7:28 pm

    During the Trump administration… hotels in NE Florida were paying $10 – $12 an hour for general labor even front desk. $10 an hour adjusted for inflation/ purchasing power was $6 an hour back in 1997. Even fast food workers were making $7 to $8 an hour or more back in 1997. $8 an hour back then is $15 today. They were grifting workers to a husk during Trump and either people were too stupid to realize it or just didn’t have a choice. And these wages had nothing to do with bad economic conditions. They were doing good business and making more profit off shorting workers. Their schemes just recently broke down when people had enough and started quitting en masse…and other pressures had impact. The red state hogs will continue to try and scheme against workers until that minimum wage law takes good effect…and even then they will find a way to cut hours etc. These red states are grimey and don’t give a damn about anyone but themselves and the rich.

  • marylou

    July 20, 2022 at 11:32 am

    Ron and Rick will starve people to force them to work for their corporate donors/owners at minimum wage under abusive conditions. Then tax the workers and shovel that to the 10% too.

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