Democrats in Washington are working hard to solidify former appointed Orlando Police Chief Val Demings as the Democratic nominee.
By Jacob Engels
The race for the Democratic nomination in Central Florida’s 10th congressional district is going to get worse before it gets better. While the leaders in congress and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee are rallying behind former appointed Orlando Police Chief Val Demings, Orlando residents have given life to three legitimate candidates seeking to claim the Democratic nomination.
Demings, who suffered a tough loss to Republican Dan Webster in 2012, angered many local Democratic voters and activists when she dropped out of the Orange County mayoral race at the last minute in 2014, leaving the party with no one to challenge long-term incumbent Republican Mayor Teresa Jacobs.
Regardless, an insider close to the DCCC told us that Demings earned the respect from running a campaign in a tough race against Republican statesman Daniel Webster. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Ben Ray Lujan recently held an event for Demings in Central Florida, signalling DC insiders determination to hand the crown to the former police chief.
“We are not handpicking a candidate, but Chief Demings has earned the respect of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and others on capitol hill. She seems to have the support locally. “
Former Florida Democratic Party Chairman and serial entrepreneur Bob Poe, who is one of the candidates challenging Demings for the nomination, grew up in Florida’s 10th district as a teen working at a gas station.
“This race is ultimately going to be decided by the voters in the 10th Congressional District and not a small group of power brokers in Washington,” said Poe.
He continued by pointing to the fact that the party has far too many other “too close to call” races on their hands that have no contested primaries, and should be focusing their efforts there instead of in Florida 10.
“The DCCC should be spending their limited resources to defeat Republicans, not fellow Democrats.”
Mr. Poe has spent the past three decades as an entrepreneur in the marketing and communications industry – a sought after show-runner and ideas man. He has raised nearly $300k in the three weeks since he announced his bid.
A Democratic aide, who once worked in the office of Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi told the East Orlando Post that Poe does not have the right racial makeup for the district.
“Simply put, Poe can’t buy this race. The hill has decided that we want Chief Demings, come hell or high-water. Thompson and Fahmy are not options either. They should wait their turn.”
State Senator Geraldine Thompson, an African American civil rights icon, is also a candidate seeking the Democratic nomination. Thompson has served in elected office for 10 years in the area, and like Poe, she is determined to not let Washington dysfunction determine who the candidate ultimately is.
“This type of behavior signals a total disregard for the people in our district. To not allow a level playing field by openly supporting one candidate over the other three is flat out wrong. The Democratic party is supposed to be a big tent. I have been breaking down barriers and obstacles my whole life.
“While the open bias with which they are treating me and the other candidates is disappointing, I am not deterred. In this race is an openly gay man, a proud Latina woman and a veteran African American female elected leader. We are insistent that the people in the District will decide… not the Washington elite.” Thompson told us on break from committee meetings in the Florida Capitol.
A donor familiar with the endorsement process and patterns of the DCCC told us that there is not really any rules against the committee supporting one candidate over another, but admitted that most of the time it is preferable to let the people decide.
“It is a little perplexing to see how they are handling this. Endorsements and support from Washington are in large part meaningless to the majority of voters. We have races that have no primaries and are extremely tough roads to victory against Republicans in the general election… why not focus on those?,” the top bundler for Democrat candidates confided via text message, echoing Bob Poe’s sentiment about smart allocation of precious party resources.
Fatima Rita Fahmy, a lawyer and former stockbroker who moved to Central Florida from Brazil when she was just five years old, is another Democrat making a run for congress in Florida’s 10th district. Fahmy calls the DCCC’s behavior “next level arrogance.”
“They want to impose their will and I will push back hard against those movements. I am in total agreement with Mr. Poe and Senator Thompson, it shows a horrible disconnect between the power-brokers and everyday people.”
Fahmy crashed a Demings event Monday morning where DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Lujan was in attendance and publicly called attention to the committees unusual financial and structural support for a candidate who is facing a primary from other credible choices.
Calls to former appointed Orlando Police Chief Val Demings were not returned.
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 email@example.com