Orange County Democratic Executive Committee Chair Carlos Guillermo Smith officially kicked off his campaign for Florida House District 49 on Thursday night in Downtown Orlando.
“My name is Carlos Guillermo Smith, and I’m a progressive, liberal Democrat running for the Florida House of Representatives!” Smith said in front of a group of cheering supporters “Tonight is not just the official start of a new journey but, the result of years of personal investment that many of you had made in me and also in our local progressive movements. And many of the leaders that I’m proud to stand on the shoulders of.”
Smith described his path to Tallahassee, and the journey his supporters could expect. District 49, which consists of parts of East Orlando and the University of Central Florida is open after incumbent Rene Plasencia (R-Orlando) announced he would be running in District 50 next year. Other Democrats in the field include Gus Martinez, who has already filed, and Puerto Rican Federal Affairs Regional Director Betsy Franceschini, who is rumored to be considering a run, and has a group of supporters attempting to draft her in the race. Businessman Peter Vivaldi is set to have a decision by the end of the month on the Republican side.
“Even though there is a Republican incumbent who is out of touch with the voters, and has fled to another district, where no one knows who he is cause he’s afraid to face me in the general election, there will be a fierce primary, and I welcome that because it will make our team stronger as a result.
Notable attendees on hand included Florida House Minority Leader Representative Mark Pafford (D-West Palm Beach), Orange County Tax Collector Scott Randolph, Orlando City Commissioner Patty Sheehan, former State Representatives Linda Stewart, and Karen Castor-Dentel, House 50 Candidate Sean Ashby, possible candidate for Congress Susannah Randolph, and Republican guests Orange County Comptroller Martha Haynie, and East Orlando Post Publisher Jacob Engels. There were also numerous Democratic donors and operatives in attendance.
Former House 49 State Representative Joe Saunders, who Smith worked for as a legislative aide closed the rally saying “We need him there. We need someone who will use every breath, and every ounce of political capital to fight for us. I have absolutely no doubt that person will be Carlos Smith.”