Race for Florida House 49 Begins
The race for Florida House District 49 officially begins today, as both Democrats in the race, Shayan Elahi and Joe Saunders have qualified to be on the ballot. The new district in East Orlando encompasses the University of Central Florida up to Semoran containing Full Sail University and Valencia – and this race is proving to be a quite a battleground going in to November.
Shayan Elahi is known across the state as a civil rights attorney, being known from his multiple appearances on CNN, MSNBC, BBC World News for his work on civil rights issues in the Orlando area.
Many will remember him from his work on Hispanic Redistricting, his defense of Food Not Bombs when they were being arrested for feeding the homeless at Lake Eola last year, and as an executive board member of the Orange County Democratic Party. He has gained a lot of support in the Hispanic community, which makes up a third of the district, because of his advocacy on behalf of a Hispanic majority County commission district running along the Semoran corridor. This could pay big dividends when going against two Hispanic republicans in November. He also has deep ties to District 49, having called it home for the past 23 years.
Joe Saunders, his challenger, is a young man who has worked as a fundraiser, lobbyist and field coordinator for Equality Florida. He shocked everyone in his first filing quarter when he raised $56,000. However, despite this, Mr. Saunders has some very serious road blocks ahead. He currently resides in the Sea World and International Drive area, about 45 minutes away from the district he is hoping to represent. Normally this would be illegal, but because it is a redistricting year there is a loophole that allows candidates to run in any district in Florida. He also does not have the same name recognition that Shayan currently holds locally, which could be potentially fatal in a smaller primary campaign such as this one.
This is a Democratic primary that many in the area are looking at from both sides of the aisle, and could make a big difference going in to November for the future power seat in Orange County for the Democratic Party.