WIR: Florida Elections Wrap-Up

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.

Week in Review: Early voting ends, Hurricane Sandy, Detestable Anti Castor-Dentel Mailer

It is your week in review. The final one before Tuesday’s election. We’ve got the effects of Hurricane Sandy on the election, early voting has finished, and a nasty ad mailer gets to voters. Here we go!

Florida Politics with Frank Torres and here we are just 48 hours out from the election. This is your last week in review, before Tuesday night, and man it has been an exciting ride, we’ve got a lot to cover, let’s get to it, unfortunately, the week started with Hurricane Sandy slamming into the northeast, my thoughts go out to all of those effected by the storm, it certainly had an effect on the Presidential campaigns, both campaigns stopping for a couple of days out of respect for those that were effected by that terrible disaster, the hot topic seems to be, how did it effect the Presidential campaigns? Did it slow Mitt Romney’s momentum heading into this week. He was closing the polls in some of the swing states, he is actually up in Florida 1 to 5 points, depending on what polls you look at, he has to win Florida, the math does not work without us. President Obama was up north surveying the disaster, did this paint Obama, did this frame Obama, as a leader America can turn to during a disaster, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie throwing some high praise at the President over how he’s handled that disaster, so that is the big question, will this have overall effects on the outcome.

Moving into some of our other races, Florida Congressional District 10. Congressman Dan Webster against former Orlando Police Chief Val Demings, the Bloomberg money bomb, New York Mayor Mike Blooberg donated 1.1 million dollars to after Dan Webster, no doubt that is a lot of money to air ads, Webster is up in polling by a few points but withing the margin of error, over Val Demings in that district, it is going to be a very close finish, an external factor effecting Florida Congressional Dsitrict 10.

Florida Congressional district 9 Todd Long vs. Alan Grayson, you know I got no love for Alan Grayson, his thing this week is that he’s had this race locked up for weeks, a very cocky, a very confident, a very arrogant, stance at looking at the race, the layout does favor him, leans Democrat, a heavy Hispanic population, so we’ll see how that works out. Todd Long is a good candidate, I urge you to take a look at him. Especially, in a partisan gridlock environment that we have in Washington right now. I’m not certain Alan Grayson is the answer.

Moving on to some of the other state House races. Florida District 30 Scott Plakon vs. Karen Castor Dentel, a very, very ugly turn of events heading into this weekend, with a mailer hitting mailboxes, linking Castor Dentel to convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky from Penn State. Jerry Sandusky the disgraced coach from Penn State. A convicted child molester on a mailer hitting mailboxes, indefensible was the word that Scott Plakon used, everybody has disavowed this thing. A terrible, terrible, mailer, I think it’s disgusting and a very sad statement on politics in Florida when you would try to make that connection, to the voters, so close to election day. that race is going to be very close, that is a team battle, Republicans want to help Plakon secure that seat, Democrats see it as a stepping stone to perhaps bigger things in Tallahassee. We’ll see how it all plays out.

Florida State House 49. Marco Pena vs. Joe Saunders, in a race that has received the title of the most important state house race in Florida. The battle for UCF, what a great region to represent in Tallhassee. I can certainly see where that billing comes from. Events in that race, Marco Pena rolling out an endorsement from Roberto Clemente Jr. that got decent pop in the media this week, we’re going to see where that race goes on Tuesday, once again both candidates are getting support from both of the parties, everybody is getting involved.

Florida State House District 47, Linda Stewart against Dr. Bob Brooks, there have been these rumors of poll numbers, giving Stewart a double digit edge, in this race in what is suppose to be a Republican leaning district, we’ll see how this works out but I haven’t seen the polling, any formal polling, it could be a very clever tactic, it’s certainly pushing the buzz, pushing the race in the direction of Linda, Stewart, it’s all about controlling the message, and controlling the conversation as far as the race goes, we’ll keep a close eye on that one.

Also, the big radio push this week. Comes in the Orange County Tax Collector’s race, Jim Huckeba trying to notify the voters, they are not voting for the late Earl K. Wood, tragically Earl K. Wood passed away late last month, Scott Randolph will be taking his place on the ballot, Jim Huckeba trying to get that message out that a vote for Earl K. Wood, is not a vote for Earl K. Wood. Huckeba hopes to merge the Tax Collector’s office with the County Comptroller’s office, should he be elected, in a move that would save tax payers hundreds of thousands of dollars, so an interesting turn of events in that race, these substitute candidates are all over the place. The Florida state House race between Eileen Game and Mike Lerosa, who took Mike Horner’s spot, so these substitute candidates really throw the voters off, We’ll see what the effects of those are on Tuesday.

But, here we are 48 hours away, we’ve got last minute stops by both campaigns, we’ve Paul Ryan tonight in Panama City, tomorrow the man himself Mitt Romney will be in Sanford, for a last minute drop in with Central Florida voters as the rest of the voters head to the polls on Tuesday, Michelle Obama will also be in town stumping for voters, so both campaigns heading into election night, the controversy over early voting, how much time should voters have to early vote has been a big topic, regardless of the outcome on Tuesday expect this one to come up again, there was a last minute extension granted from 1 to 5, you can go to certain precincts in the county to vote. Make sure to check before you head out. So, two days are left, we’re in the air, I know everyone we’ll be glued to their tv’s on Tuesday night to see how these races are played out. I’m Frank Torres and I’ll see you next time.

Orange Tax Collector, Debates, Sentinel endorsement in “Week in Review”

Here is your “Week in Review”. Yeah, I goofed on one of the slides! It happens. Have a great Sunday!


Welcome to Florida Politics with Frank Torres. This is your week in review for Sunday, October 21st. We have a lot to go over, let’s get right to it. Unfortunately, the week started off tragically with the loss of longtime Orange County Tax Collector Earl K. Wood. Wood passed away at age 96 on Monday, my thoughts go out to his family and those who were close to him. The process to replace him was completed later in the week, as the Orange County Democrats selected Scott Randolph. State legislature and Attorney to replace Earl K. Wood on the ballot. Randolph a very controversial lawmaker, very partisan, we’ll say, one of the biggest partisan bomb throwers, in Tallahassee, no desire to work across the aisle. A fighter for that party who declined to run for re-election, in district 47 earlier this year will take Earl K. Woods place on the ballot. I could sit here and tear Randolph up all day, he was suing the county a couple of weeks ago, and now he wants to be the county’s Tax Collector, I’m not sure what the logic is behind that. There were other choices, rumored, being better off to take Wood’s place on the ballot. You’ve got Phil Diamond who was a very capable candidate before he got ran over by the Buddy Dyer juggernaut in the Orlando Mayor race. You had Rod Eddins who was well spoken of by his colleagues, but it’s Randolph, I’m not sure what kind of brand of politics he’s going to bring to this race. But, based on his track record, it might be a partisan one. The voter will make that decision, all votes for Earl K. Wood, will go to Scott Randolph.

The next you had complaints coming out of the State House district 30 race between Scott Plakon and Karen Castor Dentel. Allegations that Castor Dentel used her position as a school teacher to solicit another job while she was running, or unfairly used that position to contact her colleagues in the Orange County Public School system about another job. These complaints are still coming to light. There still being investigated or thoroughly vetted. There was the incident where Castor Dentel had said that those emails had not “gotten to that level” on one newscast earlier in the day, It was revealed later that day, that indeed they had. It’s a very competitive race, both parties want that race very badly.

I also had the chance to attend a candidate forum, earlier in the week, out in Pine Castle, the big opponent matchups were between State House District 47, Dr. Bob Brooks vs. Linda Stewart, the two couldn’t be farther apart on the issues. Normally, these candidates tend to meld together, during these general elections but, these two could not be more different, there going to give the voters a clear choice. I’ll also be previewing that race later this week. We also had the Orange County Sheriff race between John Tegg and current Sheriff Jerry Demings. Those two don’t like each other, longtime foes. A lot of argument over how the office should work, a lot of argument over statistics, that should be a heated race all of the way until election day.

Then on Tuesday we had the Presidential debate. The 2nd debate between President Barack Obama and GOP and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. That one was a slugfest, the President woke up for that second debate, in the townhall and the two went at it for 90 minutes. Interrupting each other, getting in each others, faces, jumping the moderator, conflicting with moderator Candy Crowley, a lot of analysts say Obama fared better during that debate, and are now looking to Monday’s debate as a tie-breaker. We’ve seen that these debates affect polls, so it will be interesting to see what each candidate does to get the last word in with the voters, before they head to the polls in a couple of weeks, one conservative commentator George Will, called it the great Presidential debate of all time.

Speaking of debates the very next night, we had the U.S Senate debate between Bill Nelson, and Connie Mack. As exciting as the debate the night before was, was as boring as this debate was. Time constraints, neither candidate could not get what they needed to get, out because, there wasn’t enough time to say it. Not a diss on the moderators or anything like that, but the time constraints really hurt both candidates. Connie Mack going after Bill Nelson on his record, a lot of issues from the Presidential race, spilling down to the the Senate race, that’s the case all over the country. Nelson called out Mack asking him “if that was the only line he memorized”. Constraints really hurt that debate. Mack understandably wants another debate, I think Nelson should take it. We can never have too many of these things. I don’t think Nelson is going to do it, the political math doesn’t add up.

Later in the week, one of our own News Organizations, making some news of it’s own. The Orlando Sentinel endorsed Mitt Romney in the race for President. The Orlando Sentinel often gets accused of being too left leaning. Or too Democrat friendly. So, there endorsement of Mitt Romney made national news. And the very same day, Romney was in Daytona beach Friday night, a very successful event and a little momentum for Romney heading into the tie-breaker debate.

On local television this weekend. The debate for Congressional district 10 is going to be televised Dan Webster vs. Val Demings. The you’ll have both candidates separately on Political Connections, on Central Florida News 13, I’ll be on there on giving my analysis on the Presidential debate as well as a preview of what’s to come.

Two weeks to go! You’re starting to see a lot of candidates who look like they’ve been campaigning for a long time. A lot of people start hitting the wall around this time. A lot of people start going crazy around this time. So, it will be interesting to see what surprises pop up. A lot of new stuff coming up on this blog. I want to make sure we’ve got some fresh material as we head towards election day, for now that is your Week in Review. I’m Frank Torres, I’ll see you next time.

Tuesday Morning Political Headlines: Plakon vs. Castor Dentel “Gets Real”, a Replacement for Wood

Busy morning today as well roll towards election day in just a couple of weeks.

One of the biggest State House races in Florida is State Rep. Scott Plakon and school teacher Karen Castor Dentel. Both parties want that seat really bad and we’ve got some new stuff on that. There is a one on one debate between the two on public television and a story about possible violations from Castor Dentel concerning her current position as a school teacher. There could be a conflict of interests with advertising her teaching occupation while running for office and seeking an another position during the campaign. When asked about the email on during the debate, Dentel says “It didn’t get to that level” but, in the complaint itself and in a later newscast those emails were shown.

Also, the search will begin for a replacement in the Orange County Tax Collector race. Yesterday morning, 96 year old, Earl K. Wood died after almost 5 decades in office.

Those stories and another debate tonight between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Those stories lead your Tuesday morning political headlines.

WESH 2: (VIDEO) Plakon vs. Castor Dentel. District 30 race heats up during debate

WFTV 9 Eyewitness News: (Video) OCPS teacher running for state rep. accused of ethics violations

WOFL FOX 35: (Video) Death of Orange County Tax Collector shakes up race

Orlando Sentinel: Earl K. Wood dies, ending almost five decades in office

CF News 13: Gov. Rick Scott to host business leaders

WKMG Local 6: (CNN) Romney to get first question at debate

Did Castor-Dentel violate the rules in her race against Plakon?

Monday Morning Political Headlines: Earl K. Wood passes at age 96

Sad news this morning.

Longtime Orange County Tax Collector Earl K. Wood passed away this morning at age 96. Wood held the position for almost 50 years and was running for re-election.

More details to follow.

CF News 13: Orange Co. Tax Collector Earl K. Wood dies

WKMG Local 6: Orange County Tax Collector Earl K. Wood dies at 96

WFTV 9 Eyewitness News: Orange County tax collector dies at 96

Orlando Sentinel: Orange County Tax Collector Earl K. Wood dead

WESH 2: Energetic Obama predicted at next debate

WOFL FOX 35: (AP) Candidates consumed by debate preparations