Tuesday is election day. Our thoughts on top races.
By Jacob Engels
Wow! What an intense, dramatic, and hardly fought primary season we have seen in Central Florida this year.
Races that are normally not sexy, like judicial races, have actually been quite interesting. From County Commission to Congress, here are our picks for Tuesday’s primary election.
NOTE: These are our recommendations based on candidate platforms, media presence, public interaction, legislative history, and more.
Florida’s 9th Congressional District (Democrats) –
In what has been one of the most contentious Democratic primaries in recent memory, one candidate stands out among the rest: Susannah Randolph.
Mrs. Randolph is the only candidate with truly progressive bonafides, while her main competitor Darren Soto, is known as the Florida GOP’s favorite state legislator.
He has spent years earning a reputation as a “YES MAN” for the NRA and the Chamber of Commerce crowd in the state capitol.
Yet, he now wants us to believe he is going to stand strong on gun-control and against big business.
Other candidates include Dr. Dena Grayson, Alan Grayson’s newly minted wife, an accomplished researcher, and educator Valleri Crabtree.
With the district leaning heavily democratic, Randolph is the best choice for voters. She has a history of progressive activism, legislative experience in Alan Grayson’s office, and a no-nonsense approach.
It doesn’t hurt that she benefits from having an amazing partner in Orange County Tax Collector Scott Randolph, her husband and relentless advocate.
Florida’s 9th Congressional District (Republicans) –
This race has been relatively quiet, with Wayne Liebnitzky taking on Wanda Rentas. Conventional wisdom says that Rentas, a Hispanic female and Kissimmee elected official, is the best fit for the multi-county district.
However, Rentas has been outworked by Liebnitzky on the ground. Wayne has been at almost every community event and his platform is thorough.
Instead of behaving like the nomination was owed to him, he has pounded the pavement and made Rentas sweat.
Florida’s 10th Congressional District (Democrats) –
A lot of people wanted this race to be a fair and democratic process, but the DC insiders have made it clear that failed candidate Val Demings is their choice for the seat.
We think differently.
Businessman Bob Poe, who actually grew up in the district, has made an impressive case for himself and matched donations dollar for dollar. From immigration to gun control, Poe has assembled a serious campaign, while making headlines by paying his campaign workers $15/hour.
In a district where the Democrats are all but certain to win, Poe’s business background and independence from Washington Elites is very appetizing.
ORANGE COUNTY COMMISSION, District 5 –
Incumbent Commissioner Ted Edwards has faced a tough challenge from several candidates, but is poised to easily fend them off in Tuesday’s elections.
With the campaign centered mainly on the Lake Pickett developments, Edwards has been able to articulate the need for approving the project and why it makes sense for all of Orange County.
His top aide Edgar Robinson has done a tremendous job holding down the official end, as Edwards has been busy with public events and forums.
Opponents Timothy McKinney and Emily Bonilla have made opposing the plan their main campaign platforms, offering little else. McKinney’s financial problems, which this publication unearthed several weeks ago, have been cause for concern among many voters.
Marketing whiz Gregory Eisenberg, is the only one who can hold a candle to Edwards platform and understanding of the process. The millennial first time candidate has released extremely detailed plans for Orange County, ranging from transportation to marijuana.
The East Orlando Post endorses Ted Edwards in his bid for another term, provided he receives counsel from Eisenberg, who is a rising star in local politics.
OSCEOLA COUNTY COMMISSION, District 1 –
Businesswoman Peggy Choudhry has mounted an impressive challenge to corrupt incumbent Michael Harford. Highlighting her business acument and ability to bring people together, Choudhry is the kind of fresh voice Osceola County residents want on their county commission.
With allegations of corruption, misuse of community betterment funds, and Harford’s involvement in an illegally operating political advocacy, voters would be wise to give Choudhry a shot.
ORANGE COUNTY GOP COMMITTEEMAN & COMMITTEEWOMAN –
With multiple candidates vying for these important party posts, two stand out clearly.
Businessman and former Mayoral candidate Paul Paulson is the only one competing for the Committeeman spot who has a perfect voting record in Orange County. Paulson has also been involved in GOP politics for decades.
From raising substantial amounts for the party and candidates to volunteering, he has done it all. His recent challenge to Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer activated the most new or first-time Republican voters in recent memory, proving he is ready to expand the party beyond the country club.
On the Committeewoman side, early Trump volunteer and local attorney Melissa McGee is a rock solid pick.
She has demonstrated her organizational prowess over the past few months through her efforts for the Trump campaign, and in the process brought dozens of new members to the local GOP executive committee.
Like Paulson, McGee has a tangible track record of proven results… and is not part of the GOP establishment and party elite. They would be an awesome team.
ORANGE/OSCEOLA STATE ATTORNEY
Our regular readers know that we have no love for incumbent State Attorney Jeff Ashton, who we exposed last summer for browsing erotic websites on government time… using government resources.
More recently, we highlighted his horrid conviction rates, which have landed him the distinction of being the worst in the state.
Thankfully, ace lawyer and former Assistant State Attorney Aramis Ayala is hoping to rescue us from Ashton’s shame. Intelligent, compassionate, and ready to clean up the mess Mr. Ashton has created, voters should be grateful she was willing to take him on.
Show your gratitude by casting your ballot for her on Tuesday. This is a Democratic primary, so only Democrats can vote.
Orange County Circuit Court Judge, Group 1 –
Attorneys Roger Scott and Eric DuBois have waged a bloody campaign for the bench, with DuBois grabbing establishment support and Scott working the grassroots.
We like Mr. Scott for this post. He is a respected criminal defense attorney, dog-lover, and veteran.
The chambers at the Orange County Courthouse area already full of establishment hacks and Florida Bar backslappers. Something new would be nice.
I think we all would appreciate a down to earth judge who has spent time fighting for the rights of the wrongfully accused. Also, I hope he institutes a policy where judges are allowed to bring their pets to work.
9th Judicial Circuit Court, Group 4 –
The impeccably dressed and well mannered Joseph Haynes Davis is an easy choice for most. He has been crisscrossing both Orange and Osceola Counties daily, and a large number of local business owners proudly display his signs and speak on his behalf to voters.
Davis’ experience on the Value Adjustment Board and as a respected legal analyst on MSNBC are helpful as well. His demeanor though, is his most important asset.
This is the type of person you want on the bench. Calm, cool, and collected.
There you have it! Go out and vote on Tuesday…. polls are open from 7am to 7pm.
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