Happy Thanksgiving! I hope that you had plenty of turkey and good times with family. It really is a blessing to call Central Florida home and to spend it with the ones we care about. Hopefully, you’ve got a lot to be thankful for.
The area’s politicians certainly have a lot to be thankful for, especially after the recent elections. Let’s break it down.
Winning State House Candidates are grateful for sharing a ballot with President Obama: Orange, Osceola, and even Seminole counties were responsible for big gains in the Florida House. State Rep-Elect Mike Clelland, Linda Stewart, Joe Saunders and Karen Castor Dentel will be heading to Tallahassee after victories in November. Even Darren Soto is now heading to the State Senate.
They were all solid candidates in their own rights, why should they be thankful?
Because, whether they won easily or in a re-count like Clelland, the difference between victory and defeat was determined by the fact that President Obama turned out his voters for re-election. Coat-tails, umbrella votes, whatever, those voters took their “Obama for America” Voting guides to the polls and voted Democrat all the way down the ballot. This wouldn’t have been the case in 2010 where turnout for Democrats was dismal.
No Obama GOTV efforts, no massive Democratic gains in Tally, it’s that simple.
Developers and Contractors should be Thanful for Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer: You want to build condominiums in Downtown Orlando? Bring it on! Arenas, Performing Arts Centers, Commuter trains, if it involves developing Downtown, to bring it in the national “Big City” conversation, go ahead, build away.
Even if the majority of those condos are empty.
Still, Dyer’s vision for the future agrees with the voters. He won re-election by a landslide in April.
Osceola Republicans should be thankful for Mike Larosa: Yeah, we need you to drop everything in your life including your self-built business, young family, and life plan to run for the Florida State House.
By the way, you’ve got 3 weeks, your name isn’t going to be on the ballot, and instead of your name, we’re going to leave the name of an alleged sex criminal in place.
So, goes the story of State Representative-elect Mike Larosa who ran after Mike Horner dropped out and prevented Florida Democrats from swiping that seat with a candidate who wasn’t even on the radar before the scandal and was impossible to find by the media at times.
Larosa’s story is a great one to hear. I’ll try to get an interview in the future.
Larosa jumped in the his State House race and was able to win despite a damaged name on the ballot in his place
We should all be thankful for the national attention: 4 Presidential debates (3 GOP Primary, one general), Over two dozen visits from both tickets, millions and millions on advertising, all for your vote!
With the changing demographics, that might never be the case again. Florida is trending blue and that title of the biggest political battleground in the country is in jeopardy.
It was fun while it lasted and it was a very memorable experience.
I sincerely hope that you have much to be Thankful for, outside of the political world.
After a few days to soak it all in, I’m back. Here is your Central Florida Elections Wrap-Up. Going to play it by ear over the next couple of days before jumping back into regular posting. See you soon!
Florida Politics with Frank Torres. This is your week in review and what a week it was, the country re-elected President Barack Obama to second term on Tuesday night and it was not even close. The President took the majority of the swing states, including Florida, you know us down here, it takes us a little longer to tabulate those votes, but we finally got the job done on Saturday, Florida fell Barack Obama’s way. How did the President do it? I’ve been capitalizing on turnout. The President was able to activate his voter base from 2008, we’re talking about voters that voted for him the first time and we’re likely to vote for him again, we’re talking about we’re talking about younger voters, African-American voters, Hispanic Voters. The Hispanic was going to be key this year, especially here in Florida but it was one sided. The majority of Hispanic voters choosing to vote for President Obama. The President was able to get his voters to the polls, in addition to capture the independent vote. That was the key to President Obama’s victory as well as the candidates further down the ballot who rode on his coattails, that was a big buzz phrase, that was certainly the case in Florida where we saw several no-name candidates beat incumbents, because of their party affiliations, when voters didn’t recognize the candidate, they voted for the DEM next to their name. They took their Obama voter guides which tell the voters which way to go on each race and they voted in that way, and it resulted in massive Democratic gains, especially here on the state level. Those were the keys to President Obama’s victory, activating his voter base and winning the independent, minority and Hispanic votes.
Mitt Romney what can you say? He lost. There were mistakes along the way, I thought his campaign made some bad decisions, there was this feeling that his campaign was in the doldrums for about a good 30 day period, it was around the %47 percent tape release, and there was a lack of energy from the Romney campaign from about September to October, shortly after Paul Ryan was announced, I think that the Mitt Romney campaign lost a lot of energy, and they never got it back until that first debate, the first debate gave the Romney campaign some life, closed the gap in the polls, and made this a race but Romney had to do that himself. His campaign management certainly didn’t do him any favors. History will come and look at Romney, I don’t think history will judge Romney favorably, I think when it came down to who Republican thought could take on the President, it was done over by they though who would win. And they thought that was Mitt Romney. And Romney certainly was the most qualified, I thought he was the best candidate to take on the President from that group of Republicans, certainly 2016 will be a lot more competitive, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, New Mexico Governor Susanna Martinez, the list goes on and on and on, so Republicans have a very deep bench to take on whoever wins that Hilary Clinton, Joe Biden Fist Fight, among others, so a very deep Republican bench, so if there is any solace Republicans can have, it’s that they have a very wide pool of political talent that will almost certainly be better than Mitt Romney, going back to Mitt Romney, his campaign made it’s share of errors, but I don’t think Romney had the passion to capture the Independent vote as well as some other groups, I believe that was his downfall. A fine candidate, he just didn’t make the case to take the election his way.
As far as the other races here in Florida, you had the Florida Senate race, Bill Nelson easily beating Connie Mack IV while I can say Mitt Romney was a good candidate for Barack Obama, I’m not certain I could say that about Connie Mack, it was a very bizarre campaign from Connie Mack, just seems like he didn’t want to be there at times, almost like he didn’t have the conviction to run strong against Bill Nelson, it was like he was an unwilling draftee in the process, Republicans had a lackluster field in the Senate race, which led to Connie Mack jumping into the race, but when you look at the one debate he had against Bill Nelson, the energy and presence of his campaign, right here in Orlando, the heart of the I4 corridor, it was lacking, I don’t think Connie Mack was up to the task of taking on Bill Nelson, Bill Nelson won that race, he will return to Washington but hey, Republicans can say the have Marco Rubio, who given his future is almost as good as two senators, they can take some solace in that but Bill Nelson easily beating Connie Mack.
As are as House Races. Democrats had large gains in some of the state level races, even down towards the county level, the Central Florida delegation did pretty well. Congressional District 10, Daniel Webster vs. Val Demings, Daniel Webster able to pull out that victory. What was the key to his victory, obviously his district, his district leans Republican, Daniel Webster has one of the best ground games you can have in Central Florida Politics, seas of Dark Blue and White, walkers everywhere, large grassroots campaign, keep in mind throughout the election process, Webster was constantly getting criticized for his lack of fundraising power. And he didn’t have that fundraising power in 2010 and he didn’t have it again this year. But he does it the old fashion way, he does it with a good old fashion grassroots movement, and an overall positive message. What’s next for Val Demings? She’s a good candidate, I think she needs a little more work on her policy, she needs to learn more about the nation’s issues, I felt she was particularly weak in that area. I also think this was the wrong district to run in, I remember when she declared, that day, I remembered thinking, maybe she should have gone after a State Senate Seat, maybe she should have gone after a State House Seat, she ran well, I think behind that lack of policy knowledge she did fine. I think there was too much outside influence on that campaign, the DCC really went to negative on Daniel Webster, there negative ads were all over the place, I think there were too many chefs in that kitchen, I think it hurt her, also the 3rd party help from Mayor Mike Bloomberg, the 2 million dollars the New York Mayor poured into this race during Hurricane Sandy, those radio ads saturated the air waves, I think those ads in addition to the ones from the 3rd party made her go too negative against a candidate that didn’t believe in going negative. I think that hurt her but she is going to run again. Something on the municipal level would be good for her, and the rumors have already started on what she’ll run for next. but Val Demings a candidate with a great background and a good story to tell.
Congressional District 9. Alan Grayson will be going back to Washington. My condolences to the voters of the 9th district. Alan Grayson, one of the most violently partisan lawmakers out there. Doesn’t believe in being civil to his opponents across the isle, I remember him explaining once, that if he asked his the lawmakers on the otherside of the isle with politeness and civility, he would be rejected politely and with civility, so he’s abandoned any hopes of bi-partisanship whatsoever, of course he’ll try to bring up that Ron Paul “chip” that took place about 4 years ago, I’m sure it included a coffee or something like that but this is not a bi-partisan politician. He is going to be safe in that district a heavy Democratic district, which ultimately hurt Todd Long, his Republican opponent. The layout of that district, they weren’t going to vote for a Republican, also keep in mind Grayson poured his own money into the Republican primary to attack John “Q” Quinones, who was a much better match-up for him, so Grayson once again using his financial advantage to change the tone of the race. He ultimately found victory again, it will be interesting to see how he behaves in Washington, he’s done plenty of memorable things during his first term, the “Republicans want you to die” phrase from the healthcare debates, the K-Street you know what about a lobbyist in Washington, we were raised not to call girls that, but Grayson did it anyways, the Taliban Dan ad, which ultimately costed him his race. It will interesting to see what he does next.
Interesting note, you’ve got Daniel Webster who defeated Alan Grayson in 2010 and will now be serving with him in neighboring districts. There aren’t many more odd couples than that. I’m sure there will be no bad blood there.
Congressional District 7 John Mica rolling to an easy win over Jason H. Kendall as expected. He’s going back to Washington.
Congressional District 6, Ron Desantis, Republican beating Democrat Heather Beaven, the Republican party in Volusia is strong and I think Desantis is going to do good things in Washington, a rising star on capitol hill perhaps, we’ll see how that works.
Breaking down the State House races, remember those Obama coattails, I’ve told you about and that you’ve probably been hearing about on other shows, no more was that evident than during these state house races, Karen Castor Dentel is going to Tallahassee, also victories from Linda Stewart the former Orange County Commissioner, and the activist Joe Saunders so, a 3 seat turnover you can say in the Florida House, that all benefited from the President being on the ballot, and turning out the Democratic vote, all three of those candidates were elected they’ll be going to Tallahassee, in what I believe Democrats will be saying as the start of turning over the Republican majority in Tally, expect this campaign to carry over to 2014, when the Governor himself is on the ballot, I think Democrats believe they can switch the majority in the House and the Senate.
Another interesting race, Chris Dorworth versus Mike Clelland, in State House 29, Mike Clelland coming out on top. Dorworth doing everything but conceding defeat, already sending out a good-bye letter to the press and his colleagues, you know the supposed future Speaker of the House came under a lot of media fire, throughout the course of this campaign, and Dorworth’s biggest point was, he keeps getting re-elected, he keeps getting re-elected, his the candidate for his people. The voters in his district, that was always the biggest argument in his favor, ultimately when he lost his race, he lost that arguement, so it will be interesting to see what the Republicans in Tallahassee do. Who will the new House Speaker be? Also Clelland who was abandoned sometime back, was able to win this race, Chris Dorworth was the favorite heading into November and what very few times you got to see those two together on TV, I only saw them once, Dorworth actually performed better than Clelland on Television, so the bad press, and President Obama being on the ballot were ultimately too much for Chris Dorworth to overcome. And he is most likely defeated barring a miraculous recount.
In the county races, for Orange County Sheriff, Jerry Demings defeating his old foe, John Tegg, that was a very heated race, a lot of accusations being thrown around, Jerry Demings won, so one of the Deming won a silver lining for their night, Orange County Tax Collector, Scott Randolph defeating Jim Huckeba, by way of Earl K. Wood. That name recognition was very difficult to overcome, it will be interesting to see how Randolph runs that office. How political he is going to get with it? what it means for his other political goals? In the Orange County Property Appraisers race Democrat Rick Singh defeating incumbent Bill Donegan.
So, there you have it. What an election cycle it was. More Media, more advertising, a longer extended election season environment, you saw the ads starting earlier, the negative attacks starting earlier, for 2014, how is early is it going to start then? for 2016? Are going to start seeing these negative attacks earlier and earlier, Are we going to get that October environment in June? In May? Who knows? But it is only going to get bigger, a billion dollars spent be each Presidential candidate, for this election will it be 2 billion (each) for 2016. Who knows? So, a very busy and active election cycle, I was privileged to be a part of it. Not every race went the way I would have liked to have seen them go. But that’s how it is. You make your case to the voters and let them decide, A very busy election season. I woke up the next day afterwards and it was a completely different environment in Orlando. No TV ads, no attack ads.
It was nice.
We’ll see how long it is before people start declaring for 2014 or 2016. So, there you have it, your 2012 election season wrap-up, I was proud to be able to do these previews for you and lead you along the way, and we’ll continue to cover Florida Politics, together, we’ll go through this journey together, and move along to the next stage of the process, I’ll be taking a couple of days off after this review, to re-charge my batteries, for the next round politics, probably (legislative) session. So, for Florida Politics with Frank Torres, I’ll see you next time.
These are dark days at the Orange County Commission.
Still recovering from the bumps and bruises from the Orange County sick time initiative battle last month, the commission successfully kept the measure off of the ballot. They were blasted by the media and activists for “outhustling” advocates in favor of the act, that would make it mandatory for employers to grant paid sick time to their workers and could not hold them accountable for sick time taken whether it be a bad case of the flu, or a really nice day at the beach.
Now, there have been concerns over text messages exchanged during those hearings. Messages from between the lobbyists and the commissioners. There have been fights over what texts should be released and what information should and should not be relevant in the public domain.
The easy way to earn back the trust of the public? To prevent future problems like these from stealing away attention from the good work that the commission is doing?
Ban electronics during meetings. No cellphones. No laptops. No tablets. Leave them in your office. If there is an emergency, staff can interrupt the meeting and the commissioner can take action. No electronic screens bouncing off the eyeglasses of commissioners during public comment, or suspicions of dirty politics. And yes, this would include breaks.
Want to earn back the trust of the public? This is how you do it.
I know it’s not easy. I’ve got 4 internet ready devices on my person at all times. It’s going to be agony to sit through hours of meetings without being “in the loop” and it means more phone calls and follow ups later.
There is a saying in the Army “Adapt and Overcome”
Banning electronics during meetings would go a long way in repairing the reputation damage the commission has sustained over the last 45 days and would quiet “the haters” that don’t care about the measures being argued, but just want to flip commission seats in their favor.
After all commissioners are there to listen to the concerns of the public and do business in the sunshine. Put the electronics away. It would be a great demonstration of faith and eliminate one more avenue of attack from those that want them to fail.
I’ve had a great time being a CF News 13 Political Analyst this year. One of the biggest stories from the debate on Wednesday was the Big Bird remark from Mitt Romney. Here is an excellent story on that.
In what was the first debate that demanded the attention of millions.
It was Mitt Romney unleashing an aggressive debate style that controlled the tempo, the moderator, and the opponent.
That opponent by the way was President Barack Obama.
The difference in energy was apparent from the start. The President had a difficult time building up that energy and delivery style that let him easily beat Senator John McCain 4 years ago. He couldn’t get the footing he needed to dig into his “trickle down” economic attacks, his “medicare vouchers are bad” lines, and even when it was time for President Obama to go after Mitt Romney on “Romneycare” aka “the father of Obamacare” he didn’t deliver.
In fact he didn’t look comfortable until 65 minutes in the debate.
Mitt Romney was the exact opposite. Fueled by the practice of over a dozen debates while winning the GOP nomination, he brought energy, clarity, and conviction to his position on the issues. He insisted on rebuttal on topics (despite what Jim Lehrer wanted), he finally showcased that moderation that hurt him in the primary, and defended his past decisions with the responses that might have some voters taking a second look at him.
Moderator Jim Lehrer well this says all you need to know about his role in this debate. Perhaps the most seasoned moderator they could find.
Still, everyone goes back to the drawing board tonight. Was the President too nice? What does Romney have to do to keep this momentum? Tonight?
Winner: Mitt Romney. He was never on his heels. Never on the defensive. When he was attacked, he beat back those talking points with the same platform beliefs that has kept him around this long. President Obama got in his groove far too late. And in what could have been the evening he delivered his knockout punch, he was rocked with the reality that this race isn’t over yet.
Yeah, the national guys are going to give you broad and vague analysis of what to watch for in tonight’s debate. But, are your concerns really the same as a voter in Washington State, Nebraska, or Colorado? No..
I don’t care about those guys. I want to hear about solutions that help Floridians. Let’s break down what you need to listen for in the debates.
An Economic Plan that will help the Sunshine State’s Economy: What do we do down here in Florida? We’re the biggest vacation destination in the world and we build stuff. Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama need to articulate a plan that can bring manufacturing jobs back to the country (then our state government and non-existent business taxes should do the rest to lure them here) and, the rest of the country needs to find enough wiggle room in their budgets to bring the families down here on vacation.
Space…Whats Next?: Thousands of layoffs on the space coast. What can these guys do for Brevard? Okay, the shuttle program is done but don’t tell us that these two have given up on the region or space altogether. Yeah, we’ve got curiosity but that’s one rover, on one planet, from a field of exploration that has given us technology we use everyday.
Energy- to drill or not to drill: Down here in Florida, where we have to drive everywhere, we need to be able to buy gas. Hybrids are still too expensive. Solar and Wind are still years away from being real options. We still need oil guys. What will these two candidates do to close the gap between oil dependency and energy alternatives? And how will they make it affordable to the middle class?
I4 Hispanics- Listen to Obama and Romney side by side:: And Hispanics in the entire state really. Education, Immigration, Opportunities to grow and build a family. Yes, the majority of Hispanics in the corridor are Puerto Rican, but what they want to hear from each of the candidates is a connection or understanding of what these voters are going through.
The Fire and Poise: There are moments in these debates where something goes unplanned, and the candidates are forced to deal with something the million dollar consultants didn’t see coming. How will they respond? There is perhaps no more of an important test in these debates, than reacting when the unexpected happens. When you’re President the unexpected will happen all of the time.
We are the most important voters in the country. Polling as of this morning, has us still neck and neck as far as this Presidential race goes. For Obama, it could be the winning score. For Mitt Romney, it could be his Presidential last stand.
When the GOP selected Mike Larosa to replace Mike Horner as the GOP nominee in the Florida State House 42 race, they automatically cleared one of the biggest obstacles facing any Republican wishing to keep the seat out of the hands of Democrats.
You see, when Horner chose not to run for re-election after being named in a criminal investigation, the ballots were already printed. That means the voters still have to bubble in the circle with his name next to it and keep an eye for the notice that a vote for Horner will count for Larosa. If GOP leaders had selected someone with a different name, the complicated mess of capturing the attention of voters to specifically keep an eye out for that contest would have been even more difficult. Unfortunately, in Presidential elections, most voters don’t pay a lot of attention to the state house races.
Mike for 42! Order the signs.
It will be interesting to see which direction the Eileen Game campaign takes. Considered a longshot, just a week ago, Game now has a real opportunity to grab a seat for Democrats that face a perpetual minority in Tallahassee. Does she continue to go negative and make the Horner event a referendum on the culture of the party? They’ve already got a direct mail campaign underway. How much help will she get from the state party? A lot of questions will be answered over the next few days.
What about Larosa himself? Major props to him for dropping everything to run for office. Some candidates include a run for office in the grand plan for their lives, he’s got to put together a winning campaign in days, not months. He’s a newcomer but has the formal education to be an effective legislator and is highly regarded by those that know him.
State House 42 has turned into one of the most interesting races in the area.
Here we are, and we’re going to finish our rivalry series at the end of the year, with the announcement that kicked off Orlando Politics at the beginning of the year. The “Casey Race” for Orange-Osceola State Attorney between longtime incumbent Lawson Lamar and Casey Anthony Prosecutor Jeff Ashton.
Lamar vs. Ashton
Florida Politics with Frank Torres. And here we are, the number 1 political rivalry here in Orlando from 2012 and this one got started very early in the year. It started with a cold declaration on a freezing January morning in Downtown Orlando. It also involved the backdrop of a national story. A story that had the nation in front of it’s television for hours a day. The number political rivalry of 2012 is The “Casey Race”, the race for Orange-Osceola Attorney between incumbent Lawson Lamar and Casey Anthony Prosecutor Jeff Ashton. A bitter race, a race that ran high on emotions, alot of what happened behind the scenes of the biggest trial the nation has scene over the past few years and some finger pointing over the outcome of the trial. You’ll remember, Anthony accused of killing her young daughter. The trial landed right here in Orlando, you had new trucks parked on Orange Avenue for months covering this trial. And after the race was over Ashton retired. Then he announced he would run against his former boss Lamar on that January morning.
A lot of interesting angles in the race besides the Casey factor. You had one of Lamar’s own guys coming after him, after Ashton retired, he wrote a big and did the talk show circuit, “The View” and things like that. And the book sold well. He was everywhere. A movie was made after the book and he was casted by Rob Lowe. The movie comes out next month, check the dates, it’s around the anniversary of when Ashton announced.
More subplots. There were two other candidates. Defense attorney Yoerg Jager and fellow attorney from the state Attorney’s office Ryan Williams. They both jumped in the race, both ended up dropping out and each lined up behind opposing candidates. Williams behind Ashton, Jager behind Lamar. It also came down to a discussion over the efficiency of the office. Was the technology outdated? Were the attorneys overworked? Should the State Attorney try cases? Or was the role of the State Attorney to be a manager and administrator? And it would come down to that discussion.
Well who won? Well, Jeff Ashton won, but the story that makes this the number 1 rivalry isn’t just the fact that it’s the “Casey Race”. It wasn’t over the duties of the office. It was actually one of the events that happened the night of the election. After Ashton was the announced winner, Casey Anthony’s father George went to congratulate Ashton on his victory. I remember when I saw Anthony making his way to the party. No one knew what he was going to do. He actually arrived to the party and embraced Ashton. In a truly dramatic conclusion to the year’s biggest rivalry.
I wrote a blog postabout this race. Did Jeff Ashton plan it all out? Did he know from the day he retired that he was going to challenge Lamar? And if he did, how carefully was it planned? From the media tour to taking the profits of that media tour and using it in the campaign. I believed he benefited from the celebrity status he got from the trial. But was it planned? Only he would be able to tell you. That’s why it was the biggest rivalry of the year and Jeff Ashton came out the winner.
It’s been great being able to deliver this rivalry series to you. Over the year, there are so many races, so much negative dialogue it’s difficult to pull them apart. These were the top races I believe were the biggest rivalries of the year, that had the most tense exchanges between candidates, and negative messages. I enjoyed bringing it to you. It’s been a great series. Before the year is over we’ll have our “Year in quotes” for Florida Politics with Frank Torres, I’ll see you next time!