Longtime Democratic staffer, who worked for U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, will now lead Orange County Democrats into 2016 election cycle.
By Jacob Engels
On Monday night, Orange County Democrats gathered to select a new leader for the local party. Carlos Smith, who chaired the Orange County Democratic Executive Committee, announced his resignation shortly after launching his bid for state house this summer.
Smith has been quoted as saying that he wanted to make sure the election was handled in a transparent manner on all ends, and that his serving as the Chairman and as a candidate could create an “unfair” perception.
Keeping to his word, Smith proceeded over his last meeting as Chairman as nearly 100 Orange County Democrats selected Juan Lopez as their new leader. Lopez, who know works for liberal congressman Alan Grayson, also spent time in working in the office of United States Senator Bill Nelson.
Mr. Lopez defeated Keith Morrison in the chairman’s elections. Sources tell the East Orlando Post that Morrison made a respectable play for the leadership post, but that he could not muster enough to come close to Lopez — who seemed to have widespread institutional support. Lopez had served on the DEC board leading up to Monday night’s elections, and even served as the campaigns chair.
Anna Eskamani, the outgoing membership chair, had this to say about Lopez’s ascension.
“The Orange County DEC is a family of progressives all working for justice, dignity, and progress. Tonight’s elections went smoothly, and the membership welcome Juan Lopez as the organizations new chair.”
Ali Kurnaz, who serves as the Young Democrats chair and works as the Communications Director for the Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations praised outgoing Chairman Carlos Smith’s leadership.
“I’m proud of the machine that we built in Orange County under Carlos Smith’s leadership. We’ve been able to build a very strong bench for 2016, and it could not be more apparent than right here in Orange County. Juan is going to do an incredible job. He has been part of our team for a very long time. It’s not an easy job, but I believe that he will do great.”
Democrats will have several high profile races on their hands going into 2016, it will be interesting to see how Lopez manages the party apparatus.
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