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OPINION: Democratic State Senator Victor Torres Seat Could Flip Republican or White

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Florida State Senator Victor Torres, Jr., presenting Senate District 25 in Osceola and Orange counties.

KISSIMMEE, Fla. (FNN) – Recently, Osceola County School Board Member Jon Arguello and St. Cloud Proud Foundation Founder Jose Martinez filed paperwork to run for the Florida State Senate District 25 open seat, according to the Florida Division of Elections’ website.

Both candidates are Hispanics and Republicans.

 

 

Could Senate District 25 Flip Republican?
Arguello and Martinez are hoping to flip State Senate District 25 seat for the Republican Party in 2024. Senate District 25 is heavily Hispanic with a large Puerto Rican population in Osceola and Orange counties.

During the 2022 midterm election, incumbent State Senator Victor Torres was clearly losing support among Democrat and independent Hispanic voters in Osceola County. Republican candidate Peter Vivaldi came within 300 votes of flipping Osceola County out of the Democratic Party’s hands. The Democrats appear to have their work cut out for them if they want to switch Osceola County from purple back to blue.

 

 

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, Governor Ron DeSantis, both Republicans, won Osceola County in the 2022 election, showing an ideological shift in the population.

 

Florida State Representative Kristen Arrington, a Democratic candidate for Florida State Senate District 25, attends the Central Florida AFL-CIO annual Labor Picnic in Orlando. Photo by Florida National News.

Florida State Representative Kristen Arrington, a Democratic candidate for Florida State Senate District 25, attends the Central Florida AFL-CIO annual Labor Picnic in Orlando. Photo by Florida National News.

 

Could Senate District 25 Flip White?
In since 2012, Darren Soto was the first and Victor Torres was the second Puerto Rican elected to the State Senate. Both are registered Democrats.

Democratic State Representative Kristen Arrington flipped a former Puerto Rican seat white when she won Florida House District 43 in 2020, vacated by then Democratic State Rep. John Cortes, who ran unsuccessful for Osceola County Clerk of the Courts. The seat is yet to be reclaimed by a Puerto Rican candidate because after redistricting, Rep. Arrington was re-elected by a landslide (Arrington 58.3% to Republican Christian De La Torre 38.7) to the predominantly Hispanic constituency, renamed District 46, in 2022.

And now, with her sights on Sen. Torres’s seat for 2024, Rep. Arrington may very well win (and flip) that seat too. Arrington carries with her a name with strong political capital. She’s working full time in the family business: Her mother-in-law, Mary Jane Arrington, is the Osceola County Supervisor of Elections, while her husband, Brandon Arrington, was elected for Osceola County Commissioner for District 3 in 2020 and became Board Chair in 2022.

After Arrington’s win in 2020, Puerto Rican Democrats only have one seat in the Florida House–Rep. Daisy Morales won in 2020 and lost in 2022 to Rita Harris, who is white and a Democrat, while Orange County School Board Member Johanna Lopez, who’s Puerto Rican and a Democrat won the District 43 seat that became available after redistricting split Rep. Morales’ District 48 in half (districts 43 and 44).

Arrington’s current Democratic opponent in the SD 25 race is Sen. Torres’s own wife Carmen Torres. While Torres has worked alongside her husband as well as their daughter–Orange County Property Appraiser Amy Mercado–in building strong relationships among unions, Democrats and political action committees (PACs), the Arringtons appear to have a dynasty in Osceola County, so Torres will have her work cut out for her in that portion of the district.

In 2022 Arrington continued to make inroads with the Puerto Rican community by endorsing State Rep. Morales re-election bid, the only Puerto Rican in the Florida House, and co-sponsored bills Morales sponsored that were signed into law. However, Senator Torres, his daughter and wife chose to endorse Harris, who is white, instead of gaining an additional House seat (District 44) and political power for the Hispanic community.

Puerto Rican political organizers and activists told NBC News, “We must elect more Puerto Ricans to local and state offices and Congress.”

 

 

During the 2022 election, Governor DeSantis focused heavily on voter registration, which appeared to benefit him in Osceola County, and the Democrats will need to focus on GOTV (get out the vote) and voter registration efforts in order to increase their chances of victory. With 2024 being a presidential election year, more Democrats will turn out, but Democrats, especially in the Hispanic and Puerto Rican communities, will need to take a page out of DeSantis’s playbook and unify–with zero infighting whatsoever, despite their differences–and turn out every vote they possibly can in order to protect their representation. If not, the seats will continue to be scooped up by others.

 

Central Florida News

Senator Marco Rubio Endorses Debbie Mayfield for Florida House District 32

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Senator Marco Rubio released the following statement endorsing Debbie Mayfield for Florida House District 32. Mayfield kicked off her campaign with an endorsement from President Donald Trump, and last week announced Agriculture Commissioner Simpson’s endorsement.
“Debbie Mayfield has stood on the front lines fighting for common sense conservative Florida values, unafraid to take on the establishment and unapologetic in her pursuit of less government and more freedom. I proudly endorse Debbie for the Florida House because I know she will continue to fight for the hard working families and job creators of Brevard County.”

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Central Florida News

Representative Susan Valdés Opens Doors for Puerto Rican Citizens to Access Vital Documents in the Tampa Bay Area

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TAMPA, Fla. Representative Susan L. Valdés (D- Tampa) is continuing an initiative aimed at easing access to essential government documents for Puerto Rican citizens residing in the Tampa Bay area. On May 20th, Representative Valdés will host the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration (PRFAA) at her district office, continuing a temporary setup to provide constituent services to the Puerto Rican community in Tampa.

This marks the fifth event of a concerted effort between Representative Valdés and PRFAA. The PRFAA temporary office will offer assistance in obtaining vital documents, including birth, marriage, death, and Administration for Child Support (ASUME) certificates, as well as drivers records, and apostille services, streamlining the process for those in need. The Government of Puerto Rico invalidated all Puerto Rican birth certificates issued prior to July 1, 2010, and is replacing them with more secure versions.

“As we head into the summer months, a time where many individuals and families travel, it is important to have your essential government documents for boarding cruises, obtaining passports, and more. I am proud to continue this partnership with PRFAA and ease access for our community,” said Representative Valdés.

Building on PRFAA’s commitment to serving Puerto Ricans across the United States, this collaboration echoes the recent establishment of their full-time office in Kissimmee, Florida. The initiative represents a significant step in extending these vital services to the Tampa Bay area.

The event is scheduled to be held at Representative Valdés‘ district office, located at 2221 N Himes Ave, Suite B, Tampa, FL 33607, on May 20th, 2024, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. for placing orders. The orders will be processed and the official documents will be ready for pick up on May 24th. For more information regarding the services offered and to book an appointment please go the PRFAA’s website: https://prfaafl.simplybook.me/v2/ or by calling the district office at 813-673-4673.

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Central Florida News

Gilzean Proposes $1M for Voter Outreach and Cybersecurity

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Orange County Supervisor of Elections, Glen Gilzean speaks to black voters at Orlando City Commissioner District 5 Candidates Forum at Jones High School, Thursday, May 9, 2024. Photo by J Willie David, III / Florida National News

[Orange County, Florida, May 9, 2024] – Orange County Supervisor of Elections, Glen Gilzean, unveils a groundbreaking budget that not only boosts voter outreach and education but also strengthens cybersecurity to ensure election integrity. Recognizing the growing threat of cyber-attacks on election infrastructure, Supervisor Gilzean has allocated a significant portion of the budget to implementing robust cybersecurity measures designed to protect voter data and safeguard election processes.

Supervisor Gilzean aims to set a new standard for electoral efficiency and transparency, underpinned by a comprehensive approach to community engagement and fiscal responsibility. “Our democracy thrives when every voice is heard, and every vote counts,” stated Supervisor Gilzean. “By investing in outreach and education initiatives, we empower our citizens to actively participate in the democratic process. Thanks to local input from the community, we present a budget that honors taxpayers and increases opportunities for more citizens to access their right to vote. This budget enhances voter engagement while delivering significant savings for Orange County taxpayers.”

To address the growing threats of cyber-attacks and data breaches, the proposed budget includes key investments in advanced cybersecurity technologies, including firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and data encryption. This step underscores the priority Orange County places on protecting the integrity of its elections and ensuring that voter data remains secure.

Community leaders demonstrate the support for Supervisor Gilzean’s budget proposal:

Ms. Rose Morris, President of Apopka Progressive Seniors Club, said, “Many seniors like myself have fought hard to secure the right to vote, and I’m glad to see that Supervisor Gilzean is investing in voter education and outreach. By ensuring every vote is counted and every voice is heard, he is honoring the legacy of those who fought for democracy and making it easier for everyone to participate.”

Pastor Jimmy Siberio, Iglesia Oasis, remarked, “By investing in cybersecurity, Supervisor Gilzean is ensuring that every vote is protected. The focus on bilingual community outreach—in both English and Spanish—demonstrates a commitment to making sure that all members of our community are informed and engaged in the democratic process.”

Pastor Hezekiah Bradford Jr., President of Ministerial Alliance, commented, “This budget shows that Supervisor Gilzean is serious about protecting our votes and our voices. The investment in cybersecurity ensures that we can trust the system, and the increase in voter education means more people from our communities will be informed and engaged.”

The proposed budget by Supervisor Glen Gilzean marks a pivotal moment in Orange County’s electoral landscape, setting a precedent for effective governance, community involvement, and fiscal prudence. As the budget proposal moves forward for consideration and approval, Supervisor Gilzean remains steadfast in his commitment to advancing democracy, transparency, and accountability in Orange County.

 

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