Last night taught us a lot of things, including an unexpected Republican wave up and down the ballot, broken up with a few key Democratic successes. Nationally, it is almost impossible to overstate just how unprecedented this election is historically. We have departed from the traditional campaigns of the past and the conventional qualifications. The expectations of the type of candidates that run for office will be different after this election, not necessarily for the better.
BusinessForce-backed candidates and amendments overperformed, winning the vast majority of races in which we engaged. However, other groups also sought to influence serveral Orange County elections. As in past years, millions of dollars poured in from out-of-town special or partisan political interests. This year, George Soros stood out from the crowd, playing a heavy hand in a number of races by supporting Democrats for State Attorney, County Commission and the Florida Legislature. Soros' interest in metro Orlando area is unlikely to wane in coming cycles. Similarly, there was heavy union investment aimed at Hispanic/Latino voters, particularly geared toward organizing within the Puerto Rican community. That is another trend that is expected to continue.
Although, BusinessForce was not involved in Florida's 7th Congressional District, the loss of Congressman John Mica (R) will be substantial and will result in rippling effects for years to come. Mica had been a champion on many of the issues that matter to our community including MCO airport, transportation, SunRail, infrastructure, etc. His ouster is unfortunate and was a result of the Clinton ground machine and a significant influx of money from the DCCC. On the flip side, we are hopeful to continue the positive relationship with Darren Soto (D) as he cruised to victory in the 9th Congressional District. He will be a refreshing, young Hispanic voice that is willing to work with the business community on variety of our issues and concerns.
BusinessForce had an incredible night of successes including the re-election of all three of our local State Representatives (Cortes, Miller and Plasencia) in key swing districts that were targeted heavily by FL Democratic Party. We were the first local group to get out ahead and support all three last December, and despite the national pressure and significant outside funding into Central Florida, we were able to secure their victories. Additionally, Peggy Choudhry capped off her fantastic campaign for the Osceola County Commission with a convincing victory of over 61 percent of the voters and will join Brandon Arrington and Fred Hawkins, Jr. who both also successfully won re-election last night to the Osceola County Commission.
Furthermore, BusinessForce was successful in several legislative races in the region including two for State Senate (Bracy and Stargel) and seven State House Races (Santiago, Brodeur, Burton, Killebrew, LaRosa, Goodson, and Fine); Seminole County Commission (Dallari and Carey); and Orange County School Board (Moore).
Lastly, BusinessForce was successful in championing the passage of all three (3) Orange County Charter Questions, which will provide greater clarity, transparency and accountability for those on both sides of the citizen initiative process and require non-partisan elections and term limits for the county's constitutional officers.
Locally, our greatest setback came from activist Emily Bonilla's defeat of Ted Edwards in a race that went unnoticed by many. Edwards's precarious position became apparent late in the race. Breaking down the results, Bonilla dominated from start to finish and the Lake Pickett development project became the main issue of the campaign coupled with a message of outrage that the county government is not working for East Orange County's citizens. While Bonilla ran on an environmentalist platform, she maintains close ties to other activist groups, even participating in a steering committee for Organize Now. She also is supportive of the labor community's positions on business model issues and will provide them a platform within the County Commission Chambers. Bonilla - young, progressive and of Puerto Rican descendent - is emblematic of the changing demographics of East Orange County and future challenges for the business community.
In conclusion, our goal all along was to advance Central Florida's business agenda by ensuring pro-business candidates were successful in their respective state and local races and we had plenty of success to look back upon in the 2016 election cycle.
NOTABLE RACE RESULTS
BusinessForce Endorsed Candidates in Blue
Presidential - Donald Trump (49.1%) defeated Hillary Clinton (47.8%)
U.S. Senate - Marco Rubio (R-52%) defeated Patrick Murphy (D-44.3%)
U.S. House D7 - Stephanie Murphy (D-51.5%) defeated John Mica (R-48.5%)
U.S. House D9 - Darren Soto (D-57.5%) defeated Wayne Liebnitzky (R-42.5%)
Senate D11- Rep. Randolph Bracy (D) - Elected in the Primary
Senate D13 - Linda Stewart (D-58%) defeated Dean Asher (R-42%)
Senate D15 - Victor M. Torres, Jr. (D-59%) defeated Peter Vivaldi (R-41%)
Senate D22 - Sen. Kelli Stargel (R-54%) defeated Debra Smith Wright (D-47%)
FLORIDA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
House D30 - Rep. Bob Cortes (R-53%) defeated Ryan Yadav (D-47%)
House D47 - Rep. Mike Miller (R-53%) defeated Beth Tuura (D-47%)
House D50 - Rep. Rene Plasencia (R-57%) defeated Sean Ashby (D-43%)
House D27 - Rep. David Santiago (R-59%) defeated Robert L. Mann (D-41%)
House D28 - Rep. Jason Brodeur (R-64%) defeated Steve Edmonds (NPA-36%)
House D40 - Rep. Colleen Burton (R-60%) defeated Shandale Terrell (D-41%)
House D41 - Sam Killebrew (R-52%) defeated Robert Doyel (D-47%)
House D42 - Rep. Mike LaRosa (R-55%) defeated Benny Valentin (D-44%)
House D51 - Rep. Tom Goodson (R-60%) defeated Mike Blake (D-40%)
House D53 - Randy Fine (R-57%) defeated David A. Kearns (D-43%)
District 1 - Betsy VanderLey (54%) defeated Bobby Olszewski (46%)
District 3 - Pete Clarke - Elected in the Primary
District 5 - Emily Bonilla (57%) defeated Ted Edwards (43%)
Property Appraiser - Rick Singh (D-61%) defeated Ed DeAguilera (R-39%)
Comptroller - Phil Diamond (D) - Elected in Primary
School Board D7 - Christine Moore (56%) defeated Matthew Fitzpatrick (44%)
School Board D4 - Pam Gould - Elected in Primary
Charter Amendment Question 1 - Yes (66.7%)
Charter Amendment Question 2 - Yes (69.2%)
Charter Amendment Question 3 - Yes (70.5%)
District 1 - Peggy Choudhry (D-61%) defeated Jed Suhl (R-39%)
District 3 - Brandon Arrington (D-69%) defeated Ivan A. Rivera (R-24%)
District 5 - Fred Hawkins, Jr. (R-64%) defeated Jeff Rivera (D-36%)
District 1 - Robert Dallari (R-57%) defeated Walter Osborne (D-43%)
District 5 - Brenda Carey (R-57%) defeated H. Alexander Duncan (D-43%)
BusinessForce is the political action arm of the Central Florida Partnership and its goal is to affect positive change in Central Florida through regional public policy advocacy and by encouraging and supporting candidates for public office who, as public officials, will embrace free enterprise and sound, responsible business practices in government.