Mixed Bag So Far for Scott Randolph’s Politics Ahead of General Election, State Chair Run
With less than one month until another Presidential election hits Central Florida, the results on the ground locally have definitely been a mixed bag for outgoing state representative Scott Randolph. Randolph, one of the area’s leading Democrats, is also chair of the Orange County Democrats who has his sights on a run for state party chair. But the year has proven to be challenging for his party in a “blue” county despite an impressive fundraising haul of close to $140,000.
First, Randolph decided not to run for re-election because redistricting drew him into a tougher race than he was used to. Fearing a loss or at least more of a struggle than he would prefer, Randolph decided to wait until close to qualifying before publicly announcing his plans not to seek re-election and instead launch his state party run. Linda Stewart stepped up to take his place and was recently endorsed by the Orlando Sentinel and her campaign continues to gain steam on the ground.
Randolph had also built a local name for himself through the campaigns of Congressman Alan Grayson. Randolph helped run the 2008 campaign that elected Grayson to Congress, and his wife Susannah, managed Grayson’s re-election loss in 2010 to Dan Webster. Even though Mr. Randolph started the year with Grayson, he left the campaign and parted ways with the former Congressman.
From there, Randolph attempted to flex his party muscle by endorsing several local Democrats in local elections. That led to three straight losses for Orange County Democratic Party endorsed candidates. Vienna Avelares, who challenged Tony Ortiz on the Orlando City Council, received little party support outside of the endorsement. Gina Duncan, who challenged Ted Edwards on the Orange County Commission, received a lot of local party support including sponsored canvasses, phone bank efforts and fundraising help. Finally, Mike Aviles, who ran for the open County Commission District 3 race, received little help until members of the Hispanic community threatened Randolph not to leave them behind again or face a revolt. That led to the local party hiring a staffer for Aviles and an increase in phone banking, but very close to the election. All three candidates lost handily to their Republican opponents.
So, as chair of local Democratic Party, Randolph is officially 0-3 in endorsed races. Beyond that, there are more red flags. Democratic turnout was trumped in the August 14th primaries by the Republicans, despite the large voter registration advantage by Democrats in Orange County. The results show limited impact on Democratic turnout by local party, especially in key races and endorsed races. He also had a blunder by printing and distributing absentee request forms to voters that included “Sarasota County” not Orange County.
Branching outside of direct party politics, Scott Randolph started caring about Earned Sick Time when he joined the payroll of the $250,000+ effort to put a local citizen initiative on the ballot. Currently the lawyer for the Sick Time effort, the campaign suffered numerous setbacks on timing, deadlines, language questions, and technicalities. First, judges said the legal team was suing the wrong person. Then Randolph did not ask the judge to recuse himself despite the judge’s wife working with Chamber interests. Court documents are riddled with basic errors like referring to Orange County Mayor as “Jenkins” instead of Jacobs. Ultimately, Earned Sick Time has been left off the November ballot.
Republican Party Chair Lew Oliver even credited the Earned Sick Time legal team with coming up with what ultimately derailed the sick time measure. “I’d like to take the credit for this and say I came up with it,” Oliver told the Orlando Sentinel. “But I didn’t. They did.” He is referring to comments made in court by the sick time legal team saying the Commission was responsible for crafting the title and language. Marlon Washington of Citizens for a Greater Orange County even proposed two different sets of language to the Commission for some reason, giving them more ammo to claim confusion and delay.
Yes, Scott Randolph has been successful in raising funds for the local party, but there are still questions as to where the money is being spent and what results it is generating. Like many leaders in town, he also has his sights set higher – the state party chairmanship – but at least unlike others he’s been open about his plans to move up. However, if you’re outside the “Randolph club” don’t expect much attention, help or praise – candidates from all walks of life and backgrounds still complain about the lack of access to their chair.
The results are what really matter and the results are still missing. Time is running out.
This article has been updated to reflect new information provided to WONO.