Vivaldi Dispatches Grayson, While Pearson & Goodson Lag at East Side Hob Nob

    Executive Peter Vivaldi bested his 2 GOP primary opponents & general election opponent Alan Grayson at first Republican, Democrat, NPA straw poll.


    By Jacob Engels


    This year, the organizers of the East Side Regional Hob Nob wisely decided to move their event indoors after years of hosting the event in the blazing hot Florida summer, and it paid off.


    “The 3rd edition of the East Side Regional Hob Nob smashed all previous records for attendance (over 500) and number of candidates (53).” “The chamber always looks forward to producing events that highlight our community and those seeking to represent us.  We couldn’t be more pleased with the way the entire event came off,” said Cory Skeates, President of the Oviedo Winter Springs Chamber of Commerce which organized the event.


    Out of the past 3 East Side Regional Hob Nobs, I can easily name this one the best attended both from the candidate and participant side.


    SIDE NOTE – Former OOCEA Board Member & UCF SGA President Marco Pena was seen making the rounds, and talking Game of Thrones with attendees. Now, let’s analyze the most interesting results of Tueday nights straw poll, I will post a PDF with ALL the results at the bottom of the article.


    US Congress, District 9 —


    The big winner of the night was undoubtedly Peter Vivaldi. In the first straw poll of the season that consisted of more than just GOP voters, Vivaldi was able to easily fend off his two primary opponents –  Jorge Bonilla & the affable quintessential “Grandma” Carol Platt.


    Vivaldi garnered 62 votes to Platt’s 39 & Bonilla’s 38, however the bigger surprise came when attendees realized that Vivaldi actually bested Grayson as well – who only earned 50 votes. Democrat Nick Ruiz earned meager 13 votes, followed by write in candidate Mark Milkovich’s 7 votes.


    This result is hugely important for several reasons. First, although this was a Chamber of Commerce event, over 53 candidates & their supporters turned out – including many top-tier Democrats like State Representative Joe Saunders & Orange County Commissioner Tiffany Moore Russell. That means that the voting pool at this straw poll, was as close to the general election as any straw poll this election season – and voters sent a clear message by selecting Vivaldi over 2 GOP primary opponents & the bombastic Alan Grayson.


    Secondly, this was a must win for Vivaldi who has been looking for a breakaway moment to show big moneyed GOP donors who have stayed out of the race thus far that he is the ONLY candidate that can beat Alan Grayson.


    State Representative, District 47 –


    In a race that was all but his just a few months ago, environmental consultant Maurice “Mo” Pearson barely escaped primary opponent Mike Miller by 3 votes – as well as losing to potential general election opponent Linda Stewart by 3 votes as well. Democrat Stewart walked away with 73 votes, with the GOP’s Pearson getting 70, and fellow Republican Mike Miller receiving 67 votes.


    So….why is this bad news for Mo Pearson? First off, both Linda Stewart & Mike Miller has no presence at the event. With straw polls for the most part, attendees lean heavily towards the candidates in attendance and punish those who did not partake by either not voting OR voting for their opponent – and Pearson was not the beneficiary of either of those scenarios Tuesday night.


    Maybe it has to do with his sloppy handling of campaign finance documents, or more importantly his knee-jerk reaction to the OOCEA mess that you can read about here. No matter which way you spin it, the only winners in this race at the East Side Regional Hob Nob are incumbent Democrat Linda Stewart & Republican Mike Miller.


    State Representative, District 50 –


    In a surprisingly close tally, political gadfly & retired professor George Collins shocked the room when he came within 14 votes of tying incumbent & fellow Republican Tom Goodson. This is bad news for Goodson who already has a stigma for being a “Brevard Centric” legislator who rarely addresses Orange County issues. He reportedly spends more time in his beachside mansion polishing his $40,000 gold-platted Rolex than he does IN Orange County according to consultants that have worked with Goodson in the past.


    In 2012, Goodson narrowly escaped Democratic upstart & schoolteacher Sean Ashby who spent just over $12,000 in his campaign, while Goodson spend over $250,000 of his own campaign money and relied on another $200,000 from the Republican Party of Florida.


    Maybe voters are ready for something different, even if it is someone like George Collins who has run for something or another in each election cycle since I have been in Florida.


    State Representative, District 49 –


    In a rare occurrence for a liberal Democrat, incumbent State Representative Joe Saunders showed up to a Chamber of Commerce Hob Nob & actually manned his own table. The always-sunny Saunders worked the room with ease and snatched 70 votes to Republican Rene Plasencia’s 55 votes. Fellow Republican Jesse Phillips who dropped out of the race earlier this week got 44 votes and former cop Edward Rodriguez (GOP) left with 26 votes.


    To my knowledge, Saunders was the only candidate in the room and it paid off. Plasencia who received the endorsement of former candidate Jesse Phillips, will more than likely beat Edward Rodriguez and be Saunders general election opponent this fall – and that will definitely create some headaches for Saunders. Plasencia has deep connections to the district, will be able to raise comparable campaign cash to Saunders – who is a fundraising powerhouse.


    And the rest of the results are below – check out Seminole County Post tomorrow morning for a Seminole spin on Tuesday’s straw poll results at the East Side Regional Hob Nob.


    East Side Regional Hob Nob Straw Poll Results


    UPDATE – Corrected results for the Circuit Judge 9, Group 33 race are below.


    Jacob Engels, is the Founder of East Orlando Post & Seminole County Post. He is a seasoned political operative who has led numerous statewide political groups and has worked on several high-profile local, statewide, and national races. Jacob has been interviewed on national television & radio programs, with his work having been featured in the Orlando Sentinel, New York Times, Washington Post, Miami Herald and other publications nationwide. He can be reached at