Republican Jon Arguello jumped into a state Senate contest only weeks ago, but had a stronger quarter than either Democratic contender.
Now the Osceola County Republican believes he can flip a seat blue that wasn’t considered a battleground last year.
Arguello raised more than $18,100 for his campaign between Sept. 5, when he filed, and the end of the month.
That was more than either Rep. Kristen Arrington, a Kissimmee Democrat, or Carmen Torres, a Puerto Rican community leader and wife to sitting Sen. Victor Torres.
Arrington for the third quarter raised over $13,600, while Torres collected around $12,800. Jose Martinez, another Republican in the race, also filed in September and collected $1,106.
Importantly, both Democrats still hold a significant advantage in total fundraising for the overall election cycle. Arrington in total has collected nearly $78,000, and Carmen Torres raised more than $52,300.
Arguello since 2020 has served on the Osceola County School Board, where he has often scrutinized district activity and often ended up as a lone dissenting vote. He has also been censured multiple times by the School Board, according to the Osceola News-Gazette.
“I quickly realized that the district was operating without any tolerance for oversight,” Arguello said. “They resembled a mafia that practiced retaliation, cronyism and corruption on levels that my parents would have recognized in the dictators of Nicaragua. I prayed, spoke to my wife, and decided I was going to take it on which began with exposing it.”
But rather than seek a second term on the Board, Arguello announced he would run for Senate. In Senate District 25, Sen. Torres cannot run again because of term limits.
Sen. Torres won re-election last year, but by a closer-than-expected margin as Republicans statewide overperformed. While the Orlando Democrat raised nearly $142,000 to Republican opponent Peter Vivaldi’s $19,500, he received less than 52% of the vote to Vivaldi’s 47%. Torres won by fewer than 7,000 votes in a district where more than 58% of voters in 2020 had voted for Democrat Joe Biden for President and just over 40% supported Republican Donald Trump.
Arguello believes the community has shown a greater embrace of his socially conservative agenda. On the School Board, he opposed mask mandates and the inclusion of critical race theory in schools before guidance from the Legislature.
He now has picked up endorsements from GOP Reps. Carolina Amesty and Berny Jacques, as well as former Florida Secretary of Commerce Jamal Sowell, former U.S. Assistant Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services Robert Coquis and Orlando City Commissioner Jim Gray.
Arguello’s campaign sent out a release suggesting his candidacy and the performance of the district last year shows Tallahassee should give the race a stronger look this cycle.
“Gov. Ron DeSantis publicly described his disappointment in leaving the seat on the table in the last cycle,” the campaign said.
“A Republican State Senator who is a combat veteran, speaks fluent Spanish, can raise money, has served as a school board member, with clear policy chops, and a fighting chance in Osceola who can also serve as a counterweight to the likely Carlos Guillermo Smith win in Orange may be more than the Senate Majority can resist.”