As the qualifying period for State House races ended on Friday, let’s take a moment to reflect.
Ask any Republican involved in Seminole County Politics, what the worse loss on Election night in 2012 was, and you know what they’ll tell you?
President Obama beating Mitt Romney. That was a trick.
A very close second would be losing the Florida House District 29 contest. On that night an underdog former Firefighter and Attorney, beat the would-be Speaker of the Florida House and the whole state wouldn’t stop talking about it. “What?! Not in Seminole County!” “Not in a seat where the party letters next to the Candidates name should do all of the work.”
It happened. Former State Rep. Chris Dorworth, after months of feuding with the media had such negative ID that Mike Clelland beat him, and even with all of Dorworth’s challenges, it still took a recount.
Democrats all over the state took an extra victory lap and Seminole County, a county that’s got a major road named after Ronald Reagan, had blue representation in Tallahassee (twice over, if you include Karen Castor-Dentel’s slice in House 30).
Fast forward almost two years later.
Clelland is up for reelection and this time, he’s going up against a well-liked, former State Representative, that is not just a Republican, but one of the most Conservative Tallahassee lawmakers in recent years.
Scott Plakon will try to return to the State House after a tough loss to Castor-Dentel in 2012. Not only does he have high name ID and alignment of conservative values with the district’s constituency, he’s got the determination from the local party, and a dedicated group of supporters to win this seat back.
While everything on paper is against Clelland, he’s been able to raise more money than any other Democrat in the area. He’s leaned on support from Firefighter Unions and his colleagues in the legal field and actually has more money than his opponent. He’ll need every penny and he’ll have to run opposite of all of his party’s core principals. It took a recount to beat a damaged candidate in 2012. What will it take this time?
It’s not an easy question to answer.
If Clelland were to win and Karen Castor-Dentel were to hold on to her seat in 30 (I previewed that race HERE). Then you can’t call Seminole a red county anymore. Not after they didn’t take back the most Conservative seat in the state legislature, without President Obama on the ballot with a solid candidate.
This race is about the political identity of Seminole County. It’s about pride.