Former congressional candidate Peter Vivaldi has sparked the interest of leading officials within the state party and state house leadership for a possible campaign in the 49th.
By Jacob Engels
Earlier this week, Frank Torres of the Orlando Political Observer reported on rumors that former congressional and school board candidate Peter Vivaldi was considering mounting a campaign for State House in Florida’s 49th district. This district is currently home to Hispanic legislator Rene Plasencia, who upset incumbent Democrat powerhouse Joe Saunders in last years elections.
As first reported by the East Orlando Post, Plasencia has ultimately decided to not seek re-election in the Democratic leaning 49 and instead run in the more conservative 50th district. Plasencia’s move was facilitated by the current State Representative for that district, Tom Goodson, choosing to instead run for Steve Crisafulli’s Brevard based seat in 2016.
Vivaldi, a business executive, who ran a grassroots intensive campaign to capture the Republican nomination to face Democrat firebrand Alan Grayson, enjoyed heavy support amongst the Hispanic community. Though he came up short in the 2014 primary, Vivaldi’s handling of the revelation of his writing a bad check over 25 years ago, despite an onslaught of negative campaigning from his opponents, earned him the respect of the media, activists and party brass.
Now, my sources in the capitol are telling me that high level officials at the Republican Party of Florida and in the office of a presumptive future house speaker, are seriously considering how to aid a potential Vivaldi state house campaign. One operative, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told me that Mr. Vivaldi is an attractive and viable candidate for several reasons.
“Peter has been a pastor in the 49th district for well over 15 years. His deep connections to the electorate, Hispanic and otherwise, have us very interested in him running. Like most, he is not perfect… but his remarkable journey to redemption and ability to appeal across party lines in the general election in a district where Republicans are outnumbered substantially… has donors engaged.”
While Vivaldi is currently a resident of Windermere, he tells the East Orlando Post that relocating to the district will be part of any final plans he makes while considering a state house campaign.
“As a youth pastor… I have mentored children from the time they were in middle school in the 49th district. Yes, I have run and come up short twice. However, as I have not and will not give up on our youth, I will not give up on volunteering my name and time away from my family to serve our community.”
A top bundler for the GOP said that Vivaldi would have to raise at least $150,000 to be competitive against a viable Democratic opponent, saying it was unlikely that Mr. Vivaldi would face a contested primary… if he decides to run.
This lines up with the intelligence we have received that former State Senate candidate and Hispanic Belinda Ortiz has passed on calls from the state party to run, citing the fact that she is currently expecting a child.
Fellow Puerto Rican and Seminole County legislator Bob Cortes said that Vivaldi is viable. “He would have to work very hard and knock on more doors than he ever has.” Current State Representative Rene Plasencia also spoke highly of Vivaldi.
“Winning this district for the GOP a second time would take someone like Peter. He’s always looking to help people,” explained Plasencia, who like Cortes, is a longtime friend of Vivaldi.
Vivaldi would surely have to overcome the stigma of two unsuccessful campaigns, but let us not forget that even the likes of Richard Nixon and Abraham Lincoln failed several times before achieving their ultimate goals. Democrats Joe Saunders and Carlos Smith would certainly have to think twice about mounting a campaign against an Puerto Rican Republican like Vivaldi, who has decades long connections in the district. Now, we wait.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org