HD 45 Republican Primary floodgates opening

HD 45 Republican mailers
TV, mailers flooding the HD 45 market, including from outside groups.

House District 45 Republican voters are getting flooded with mailers, multiple TV commercials and other advertising including attack ads, as five candidates vie for a shot at representing the coveted Walt Disney World area.

Four of the Republicans are spending big this month — hundreds of thousands of dollars between them — on mailers and TV, for a House seat Primary. And they’re being joined by outside spending from at least four groups.

The messaging includes a few shots at one another, particularly against Carolina Amesty, Vennia Francois and Bruno Portigliatti, some of it coming from the outside groups.

HD 45 covers southwestern Orange County including Walt Disney World, and northwestern Osceola County. Results for recent General Elections suggest it may have a slight Democratic lean.

Allie Braswell, a diversity consultant, former Marine and former president of the Central Florida Urban League from Winter Garden, has wrapped up the Democratic nomination and awaits the Republican Primary winner — Amesty, Francois, Portigliatti, Mike Zhao, or Janet Frevola.

In addition to a flurry of mailers coming directly from the Republicans’ campaigns, numerous fliers reportedly have been arriving in HD 45 mailboxes from several outside groups, notably Citizens for Principled Leadership, Conservative Leadership Fund, and Florida Conservative Action Fund, including attack mailers.

Amesty, a private Christian university executive from Windermere, was up on TV, two weeks ago. She has reserved $85,000 TV time in a targeted cable buy for southern and western Orange, through Aug. 22, according to a media consultant. She also has placed numerous mailers, bench signs and billboards, though much of that has not yet shown up in her campaign finance reporting to the Florida Division of Elections.

Her latest report, for July 15, states showed just $7,550 in spending, with about $4,000 of that going to consultants and the rest for field work and reimbursements, during the first half of July. Her previous report listed $21,730 in spending for late June, with only a small portion of that going to advertising.

Amesty said her consultant handling the advertising, The Front Line Agency of Tallahassee, is fronting advertising costs and billing her, and that her campaign just paid an $89,000 bill that should show up in the next report.

Francois, a lawyer from Windermere, just launched her first TV spot this week, with a $14,000 TV buy of targeted cable time. In the July 15 campaign finance report, her campaign showed $23,677 spent on advertising in the first half of July.

Francois’s new TV spot declares herself to be “the woke left’s worst nightmare” and pledges to work with Gov. Ron DeSantis on a full agenda of state issues DeSantis has been pushing. “Real reform is originating here in the states, not in Washington D.C.,” she says.

She vows to work to “keep Florida free and strong, with low taxes and limited government,” to fight against “big tech censorship,” and for 2nd Amendment rights, voter rights, “the sanctity of life,” parental rights in education, law and order, “and our time-honored American values.”

Portigliatti, a private Christian university executive, lawyer and businessman from Orlando, reported $21,800 in direct mail advertising and $2,700 in other advertising for the first half of July.

His campaign also is launching his first TV ad this week, with a $55,000 buy, which would show up in the next report.

The ad follows Portigliatti from his days bussing tables on Orlando’s restaurant row to a successful business career. A narrator pledges he will put his experience to use to cut spending and taxes, stop inflation, and make Florida affordable. The ad then seeks to tie him to both former President Donald Trump and DeSantis, saying he supported them both, and supports DeSantis’ doctrine “of a free and open Florida.”

Zhao, an engineer and businessman from Windermere, got his first TV time in June. For the last month of the Primary campaign, he reportedly has reserved $38,000 in TV time in a targeted cable buy for a new spot highlighting his experience as a family man, business owner, energy leader and survivor of communism (as an immigrant from China.) His campaign reports show $14,000 spent on advertising and another $9,000 on consulting in the first half of July.

Zhao’s new ad declares himself “the proven conservative leader we can trust to fight back against the radical left.” More specifically, he pledges to work with DeSantis to lower gas prices, make insurance more affordable and get inflation under control.

The fifth Republican, Frevola, a retired law enforcement officer in several agencieshas not raised much money and hasn’t been spending much. She said she’s focusing on canvassing, trying to get her message across on front porches, rather than through mailboxes or TV. She said she’s also trying to avoid the attacks.

“Level heads need to prevail. That’s all that the citizens of 45 want: level heads,” Frevola said.

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].

One comment

  • Joe Chenette

    July 30, 2022 at 4:40 pm

    Who is behind Citizens for Principled Leadership, Conservative Leadership Fund, and Florida Conservative Action Fund?
    Did the candidates endorse the ads?
    What is the truth?

Comments are closed.


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