East Side Hob Knob Garners Packed Event

The dual project from the East Side and Oviedo-Winter Springs Chamber of Commerce was a who’s who of Central Florida.


By Jacob Engels


Hundreds packed into the UCF Fairwinds Alumni Center for this year’s installment of the East Side Hob Knob, supported by the Orange and Seminole County Supervisor of Elections.


The event featured a plentiful spread from Sonny’s BBQ and a collection of top power-brokers. News 965FM and Orlando Politics editor Frank Torres were seen in search of stories, with News13 ace reporter Jeff Allen capturing footage.


Keith Landry, the recently retired top anchor at Fox 35 floated about… earnestly providing credence to concerned voters who were interested in his plan for the Orange County Comptroller’s office.


Top political consultant Alan Byrd was spotted reconnecting with heavyweight players, following a recent pilgrimage to the Tennessee based Bonaroo Music Festival. Tallahassee based GOP strategist Pablo Diaz, who was instrumental in electing Attorney General Pam Bondi, attended the must-go-to straw poll and hob knob as well.


Diaz works for Brett Doster’s venture Front Line Strategies, which helped elect astute State Representative Bob Cortes.


Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Mike Ertel said that the collaborative event between Orange and Seminole based Chambers of Commerce was ” the first regional event of the season”.


“The East Side Hob Knob was a well attended and planned gathering,” explained Ertel.


With the East Side Hob Knob providing the first insight into how candidates fare in the general election, Oviedo-Winter Springs Chamber president Todd Sykes had this to say.


“I was delighted to see so many great candidates partake. It really shows that they are engaged and listen to voters,” texted Sykes.


Now, on to the votes!


In the season’s first dual county and open straw poll event featuring those of all parties, real estate magnate Donald Trump won with 214 votes cast. Hillary Clinton received 110, with Gary Johnson securing 53 votes. In the U.S. Senate race, Marco Rubio won the night, trouncing opponents more than 3 to 1 on both the GOP and general election line.


Incumbents John Mica and Bill Posey smoked the competition, with Mica enjoying a much healthier margin of victory.


Scandal and sex-toy ridden Orange/Osceola State Attorney Jeff Ashton barely escaped his opponent Aramis Ayala in his quest for re-election.


Senate candidates Dean Asher and Peter Vivaldi wowed attendees with their strong victories among a crowd that featured Republicans, Democrats, Independents and more.


Other legislative winners include Scott Plakon, Bob Cortes, Mike Miller, and Jason Brodeur… who all trounced their respective opposition. State House challengers Sean Ashby, Amy Mercado came close to knocking off their opponents, while Equality Florida activist Carlos Smith tallying a win.


In the Orange County Sheriff race, upstart Spike Hopkins came within mere votes of longtime incumbent Jerry Demings.


Seminole County Clerk of Court candidate Sammy Gibson snatched another victory, with Seminole Tax Collector candidate Joel Greenberg coming within CLOSE striking distance of ancient incumbent Ray Valdes.


“I am humbled by the show of trust and confidence demonstrated by the voters at the event. We still have a lot of work to do to earn the respect and confidence of all the voters and citizens of Seminole County. I’m grateful for that opportunity,” emailed Gibson shortly after leaving the hob knob.


Widely respected Circuit Court Judge Dan Traver presented a very strong showing and easily dispatched his competition. Community activist Timothy McKinney upset the apple-cart by toppling incumbent District 5 Orange County Commissioner Ted Edwards.


McKinney had this to say about his win. “Tonight’s win was just another indication of what our campaign has already known, even the establishment is ready for a change in leadership in Orange County Commission District 5. I will be an excellent commissioner for the business community as well as an accessible advocate for every resident.”


Seminole County candidates Jesse Phillips and Susan “Susie” Dolan who are running for GOP State Committeeman and Committeewoman, had decisive repeat wins.


Businessman and former Orlando Mayoral candidate Paul Paulson fended off the political and operative class, with an impressive showing in his bid for Orange County GOP Committeeman.


Dedicated Trump organizers Randy Ross and the bubbly L.A. Key represented their candidate in rare form, converting Democrats to support the GOP nominee for President.



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 info@eastorlandopost.com