On to November.
Last night’s primary results in Florida, Orange County, and Apopka were memorable, and that alone is a remarkable statement.
Typically, primaries are low turnout snore-fests that do little more than to solidify the party establishment’s favorite son in route to the general election. But yesterday was filled with surprises that went well beyond the primary colors most are used to seeing.
First off, it was one of the highest turnouts for a primary ever recorded. 192,124 Orange County voters cast their ballots in early voting, by mail-in ballots, and in person. Almost 24.92% of the electorate voted in the primary, compared to 18.14% in the 2016 primary, and 14% in the 2014 primary.
And the biggest surprise was at the very top of your ticket, no matter if you had a Republican or Democrat ballot.
Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum’s victory was the most unexpected of the night, as he defeated former Rep. Gwen Graham. Coming into election day, Gillum had not led in a single poll. His victory represents an upset victory for the progressive wing of the party in the final stretch of 2018 primaries.
Florida Rep. Ron DeSantis won the Republican nomination, cruising to a nearly 20 point win over establishment-backed Adam Putnam, the state’s agriculture commissioner, likely thanks to his coveted endorsement from President Trump. And while DeSantis narrowly led in most polls, a 20-point victory was a shock to the system of the Republican establishment.
It’s pretty clear that a DeSantis-Gillum matchup is going to be a wild ride all the way to November.
In local elections, results were less surprising but no less interesting.
Patricia Rumph won the Orange County Commission District 2 election with 9,698, but with only 30.09% of the vote, she will have to win again in a November runoff to claim the seat. Her opponent is three-term school board member Christine Moore, who received 9,181 votes (28.48%).
“We are so pleased that the voters responded yes to my proven record of getting the job done,” said Moore. “The people of District 2 deserve a county commissioner who represents all people.”
Moore, an Apopka resident, will have a good shot at overcoming the 517-vote deficit to Rumpf, considering that third and fourth place finishers Fred Brummer (7,599 votes 23.57%), and Mark Byrd (5,757 votes 17.86%) are also Apopka residents, and Moore worked on Brummer’s previous campaigns and is likely to gain his endorsement.
Melissa Byrd, also an Apopka resident, won the Orange County Public School Board District 7 primary with 12,360 votes (45.34%), but she too will have to close the deal in November. despite nearly doubling second-place finisher Eric Schwalbach’s vote total (6,259 votes 22.96%).
“I am thrilled with tonight’s results and I am humbled that more than 12000 people entrusted me with their vote for school board,” said Byrd. “I’m confident in November we will cross the finish line strong.”
Three races that did not go to runoffs were the Orange County Mayoral election, the Orange County School Board Chairman race, and the US Congressional District 10 faceoff. In all three of these elections, a winner was selected with overwhelming support.
Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings trounced his two opponents with 114,563 votes (61.62%), Pete Clarke and Rod Panepinto in the Orange County Mayor’s race. Clarke received 40,901 votes (22%), followed by Panepinto with 30,445 (16.38%). Demings will succeed current Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs.
And speaking of Jacobs, she too will be changing jobs in Orange County, just as Demings.
Jacobs narrowly avoided a runoff by receiving 95,442 votes (52.18%) to defeat her three opponents in the Orange County Public School Board Chairman election. School Board member Nancy Robbinson finished second with 47,174 votes (25.79%), followed by Apopka resident Matthew Fitzpatrick with 30,537 votes (16.7%), and Robert Allen Prater with 9,756 (5.33%).
Congresswoman Val Demings won her second term in the Florida 10th District with a resounding victory over Orlando businessman Wade Darius. Demings received with 73,583 votes (75.01%), to Darius’ 24,519 (24.99%) and because there is no Republican opponent, Demings will return to Congress without a November challenge.
69 days and counting.