Tonight was the special general election for House District 49. Incumbent Republican Representative John Quiñones resigned his seat to run for Osceola County Commission. He won his race easily. In his place, Democrat Darren Soto challenged Republican Tony Suarez.
According to the Orange and Osceola County Supervisors of Elections Websites, Soto has apparently won by a vote of 3,942 (51.9%) to 3,657 (48.1%). These sites don’t have the same technology as Bay area Supervisors, especially Orange, so it’s hard to tell if 100% of the vote has been counted. No official news has been posted to the Central Florida Political Pulse blog or the Orlando Sentinel website.
If the results hold, and Soto does win the race, it will be the 8th seat picked up by the Florida Democratic Party, reversing a long trend of gains by the Republican Party. To be fair, when this seat was drawn duing the 2000 redistricting process, everyone knew it would probably be a Democratic seat. Given that the Republicans won the special election for House District 3 earlier this year, the parties are tied 1-1.
Now with Senator Nancy Argenziano resigning to serve on the Public Service Commission, the two parties will square off in a fight for a moderate, rural, North Florida Senate District. It’s chock full of old-time Reagan Democrats and cracker country Florida. The problem is that no viable Democrat has been found for the race — so it’s down to three Republicans: Arch Conservative Representative Dennis Baxley, Conservative attorney Richard Corcoran (who recently worked for House Speaker Marco Rubio), and former Sheriff and current Representative Charlie Dean. Senator Argenziano has endorsed Dean.
If the FDP can find a viable candidate, it could be an interesting race. Otherwise, I think you can start to practice saying “Senator Dean.”