And They’re Off: Orange County Political Races Begin to Heat Up

(Photo credit: Rennett Stowe)
(Photo credit: Rennett Stowe)

With just over one year until the 2014 elections, many local candidates are already declaring their intent to be on the ballot and are busy campaigning. While most of the attention next year will likely focus on the Governor’s race and potential Democratic primary to find a challenger for Rick Scott, here in Orange County there will be a lot of activity defining the new face of the Orange County Commission and some of the races are already getting crowded more than a year out.

The early start for many candidates indicates how long the campaign season is becoming. It also means candidates have more time to raise the money needed to compete and win. Here’s a one year out check in on the latest Orange County Commission fundraising totals:

County Commission District 2

The District 2 race is filling up with five declared candidates already. Current Eatonville Councilman Alvin Moore, candidate for Orange County Commission District 2, announced raising $9,155 in the second quarter, bringing his total fundraising to just under $20,000. Moore’s top challenge so far appears to be Rep. Bryan Nelson, who is termed out and now seeking the Commission seat. Nelson has raised just under $40,000 total, raising $30,000 in the second quarter.

“Previously, in my elections for Town Council, I walked door-to-door and wasn’t as focused on fundraising,” Moore said. “In a district with 100,000 voters, being competitive means raising the money to deliver my message to every person in the district.”

Attorney Greg Jackson, who previously served as a member of the Florida Army National Guard, U.S. Navy Reserve and as an Assistant Attorney General, also jumped into the race and reports show he has raised about $4,000 to date. Carol Ann Johnson reported raising more than $2,000 in the second quarter, bringing her total to $3,400. After 31 years of dedicated public service, Johnson retired from Orange County Government in 2011 and is currently the Regional Director of Sales for Shelby Distribution, Inc., an office supply company. Patricia Rumph brings over 25 years of public safety and community partnership work experience to her campaign for District 2 and she reported raising about $2,000 in the second quarter, with a total of $3,000 raised to date.

County Commission District 4

Local Democrats were enraged and ready to take on County Commissioner Jennifer Thompson after the earned sick time debacle, but they are not showing that enthusiasm this far out from the 2014 elections. Sean Ashby, the only declared candidate so far in the race, has just over $5,000 in his war chest so far. Thompson is considered a darling of the Chamber of Commerce on the Commission and raised more than $170,000 in her 2010 election.

County Commission District 6

Here’s another crowded field early and expect a few more names to think about running. The seat is overwhelmingly Democratic, and African-American voters make up 52 percent of the district, which is held by term-limited Commissioner Tiffany Moore Russell. District 6 has five announced candidates, and two of the biggest names in the race are not reporting any fundraising numbers yet. Former County Commissioner Homer Hartage is eyeing a comeback but he will not report initial fundraising numbers until the fall. Former candidate for State Senate Victoria Siplin, wife of former Senator Gary Siplin, also jumped in the race this summer, but she filed a waiver of no campaign activity through June 30.

The leading fundraiser to date is Derrick Wallace, raising almost $11,000 in the second quarter and bringing his total fundraising to over $26,000. He has spent $10,000 to date on his campaign. Virginia Whittington, currently the Director of Regional Partnerships for MetroPlan Orlando, reported raising more than $11,000 this quarter. Joshua Paladino, a civil rights activist and community organizer, is actively campaigning but only reported raising around $250 in the quarter.

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