He had the money, connections, experience, and ran a strong campaign. With those resources Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer will continue to lead the City Beautiful for another term (maybe).
Dyer beat out the fireballer Activist Mike Cantone, Businessman/longtime foe Ken Mulvaney, and held off a challenger from his own ranks in Commissioner Phil Diamond. He cruised to a 58% win that eliminated any possibility of a runoff next month.
Dyer outspent his opponents almost 3 times over. He took to television and had a GOTV push that would make someone running for Congress jealous. He used his State of the City address and transitioned it into a potent campaign message. He dropped 40lbs and picked up support with his big city vision and small town delivery. You looked at his campaign finance reports and could recognize that the power players in this town didn’t want a change. You look at the returns tonight and realized that the middle class didn’t either. His biggest risk was participating in debates where everyone would take apart his policies. He stared straight ahead and avoided a damaging soundbyte at all costs.
Turnout was low and that might have given one of Dyer’s opponents a chance to push this into a runoff where they might have had a better possibility in what many thought was an improbability.
Phil Diamond ran a fine campaign and against a weaker incumbent might have stood a chance. In the end the Dyer Juggernaut was too much and despite a decent fundraising push on his end, he couldn’t keep up. You can still make the argument that he was better at the debates than Dyer. We’ll see where he goes from here.
Ken Mulvaney’s late start costed him. His campaign sprung to life in the days leading up to the election but he couldn’t rise up in the debates or define himself as the clear Buddy alternative.
Mike Cantone will be back. He’s actually better off running in a partisan race that will let his Democratic philosophy run full speed. He can grab ink with the best of them and he would be a nightmare to deal with in a head to head race.
Incumbents Tony Ortiz, Patty Sheehan, and Sam Ings were also winners tonight. They’ll be joined by one new face, Jim Gray who will take Diamond’s seat on the council.
Here were the final numbers.
Buddy Dyer: 57.8%
Phil Diamond: 27.9%
Ken Mulvaney: 11.3%
Mike Cantone: 3.2%
This Blog’s Prediction?
So, Mayor Buddy Dyer will remain Orlando’s Mayor. He’ll zig zag around the country pushing Orlando to businesses and major event leaders. He’ll continue to ride on floats down Orange Ave during Holiday Parades. He’ll hop a ride on Air Force One with President Barack Obama. We know all of this already. What we don’t know is what is really next on Buddy Dyer’s political path.
You can ask him. He won’t tell you much… for now. But, in two years we’ll all be watching, including Florida Governor Rick Scott.