The local Democratic Party may be in a little trouble when the special election for sheriff comes around. Two prominent candidates filed to run for sheriff as Democrats to potentially replace Jerry Demings, the county’s current sheriff, but both men will have to run as an NPA (No Party Affiliation). State rules will not allow for a candidate to run as member of a political party without being registered under that party’s umbrella for at least a year.
Orlando Chief of Police, John Mina, is in the race as well as Joe Lopez. Last month Mina raised a respectable $19,926 for his first financial report. He’ll obviously need more than that but he’s off to a good start. Lopez, as of the date this story went to publish, has not filed his first financial report.
Orlando Rising wrote about this matter recently, but it’s worth exploring a little further. Without Demings’ anchoring the ballot for sheriff, and no registered Democrat filed to run yet, this may be an opportunity for the Republican Party to steal a constitutional office.
Currently all the county’s constitutional officers are Democrats, including comptroller. But if Mina and Lopez can’t conjure enough support from the Democratic Party, this may be an opportunity for a Republican to slide in. Thomas Stroup, the only filed Republican in the race, recently announced his decision to withdraw. That leaves just Lopez and Mina.
Of course, this all reads as hypothetical as Mina has significant name recognition. While the City of Orlando’s police chief, he attained nationwide fame due to the tragedy at the Pulse nightclub in 2016. He’s traveled the world to give lectures on his department’s response to the shooting, and continues to make the rounds when local news stations need the opinion of a law enforcement officer.
But under the watch of the local party, if they are unable to retain the sheriff’s office headed into midterm elections in a county that’s bright blue, what does that say about the local Democratic Party’s leadership to not just attract talent, but ensure that new candidates are properly trained and abreast of the rules?
That’s kind of digging in the minutia but it may be worth remembering if the seat flips to Republican control. Democrats currently have a hefty registration advantage over Republicans. If they cannot keep hold of a solid Democratic seat, does this mean that the race for sheriff caught them off guard or shows a lack of leadership?