Political Hobnob Season is Officially Underway

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) – With just three weeks until the primary election, local candidates are scrambling across their districts to reach voters by attending various digital and in-person hobnobs before the primaries.

Signs litter street corners while candidates and volunteers knock on doors and make calls.

Meanwhile, hobnob season is in full swing.

Hobnobs are political gatherings where candidates and voters come together to mingle. Candidates set up campaign booths and give short speeches to try to sway the crowd. It’s a chance for voters to speak face-to-face with the names on their ballot, and an opportunity for candidates to gain volunteers and donations.

Typically, these events are held in ballrooms, convention centers, and large public spaces.

However, the coronavirus has forced most events to go digital.

This last week, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando (HCCMO), hosted a special virtual hobnob with a focus on Hispanic voters.

With bilingual hosts, the event suited both English and Spanish speakers. Republican and Democratic candidates from Orange, Seminole, and Osceola Counties attended the event, including candidates for:

  • Congress
  • State House
  • Circuit Judge
  • School Board
  • Sheriff

The event utilized various platforms, including Zoom, Whova, and Survey Monkey. Participants could watch the hosts, ask questions in chat rooms, message individual candidates, and visit virtual “campaign booths” to see pictures, videos, and biographies.

The HCCMO also broadcasted across several radio stations, which increased the event’s coverage.

The Straw Poll opened at the end.

Straw Polls are hobnob hallmarks. Everyone who participates in the hobnob gets a vote in a “mock” election at the end of the night. Any candidate that wins the Straw Poll gets to share the news on their social media as a sign of their campaign’s strength.

Several more hobnobs are scheduled for the coming week.

These two are free to the public, but require registration.

On August 1, the Orange County GOP is hosting a private in-person convention for Republican candidates at the Rosen Hotel. It will be streamed on Facebook and over Zoom.

Rick Singh for Orange County Property Appraiser ad banner

Besides traditional hobnobs, communities are also hosting their own meet and greets and forums.

Several days ago, the NAACP and GOABBA, or the National Association of Asian American Professionals and Greater American Asian Bar Association, hosted a forum for judicial candidates. Lasting an hour-and-a-half and streamed live on Facebook, it offered an opportunity to see candidates answer questions side by side with their opponents.

Again, all of these events are in anticipation of the primary election on August 18th. The primary election, however, looks very different from the general election in November.

Florida is a closed primary state, which means that you must be a member of a political party to vote for that party’s candidates. Because of this, voters receive different ballots depending on their party affiliation. Non-partisan races are included on both ballots.

For example, take the District 10 congressional race.

Registered Republicans will see two names on their primary election ballot for Congress: Vennia Francois and Willie Montague. Whichever candidate wins on August 18 will move on to be placed on the General Election ballot.

Registered Democrats will see no congressional candidates on their primary election ballot because incumbent Val Demings has no opponent. She will automatically be placed on the general election ballot.

Both voters will see judicial candidates on their ballots because those are non-partisan races.

Some races don’t move on to the General Election, and are decided on primary election day. These races include Circuit Judges, Committee people, and School Board members.

It can be tricky figuring out the ins and outs of who is running when, so it’s best for voters visit their local Supervisor of Elections office’s website to get all the details specific to them, including sample ballots and voting locations.

Local politics has renewed energy as voters ready their ballots. With coronavirus cases up in Florida, mail-in-ballots and early voting are expected to increase dramatically. What effects this has on election night will be interesting to watch.


Marcos Barrios is a Florida National News contributing writer. The avid writer and musician is passionate about politics and entertainment in Florida and abroad.

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