Republican candidate, Florida House District 45
Never held elective office.
President, Golfway International LLC
University of Science and Technology of China, Bachelor's, Nuclear Electronics
University of South Carolina, MBA, International Business Management
Yukong “Mike” Zhao, a former executive with Siemens and self-described “conservative champion,” will face four candidates — Carolina Amesty, Vienna Francois, Janet Frevola and Bruno Portogliatti — in the Aug. 23 Republican primary for the Florida House District 45 open seat that was held by state Rep. Geraldine Thompson, who is now running for the state Senate District 15 seat.
The winner will square off against Democrat Allie Braswell, who is running unopposed, in the Nov. 8 general election. The district represents northwestern Osceola county and southwestern Orange County, including Windermere, parts of Winter Garden, Ocoee, Gotha, Dr. Phillips and Walt Disney World.
Zhao, a Windermere resident who unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 2000 and a state House district last year, immigrated from China in 1992 and moved to Orlando in 1996. He is a former director of global planning with Siemens Energy and is the co-founder and president of the nonprofit Asian American Coalition for Education, which advocates against anti-Asian admission policies.
Florida Politics described Zhao as a “leader in the national effort to oppose college and university affirmative action programs that work against Asian-American students.” It also noted that most of his campaign donations come from outside Florida, but Zhao said his grassroots campaign had more than 600 contributors and defended the outside donations.
“Conservative Americans who want to move to Florida for their retirement because they love the freedom and public safety Florida offers,” he told Florida Politics. “People in California, New Jersey and New York no longer have them. So they expect I will support Governor (Ron) DeSantis to keep Florida free and safe. Conservative Asian Americans who appreciate my leadership in fighting liberal education policies — affirmative actions and critical race theory. (It was conservative Asian Americans who recently rose up and successfully recalled three liberal school board members in San Francisco.)”
At a July political forum, Zhao and three of his Republican opponents supported the law repealing Disney’s special district, the Reedy Creek Improvement District. He said he would work with DeSantis to “fight against the woke corporation trying to groom our young children. I will fight against and negotiate with Disney because under this CEO they’ve become woke, they’ve deserted their original mission of Disney, which is a family-oriented, pro-family entertainment,” said Zhao.
On his campaign website, Zhao offers brief solutions to several issues. On the economy, he says he will help fight inflation and supply constraints, develop clear fossil energy to lower gas prices, address affordable housing, diversify Central Florida’s economy with high-paying jobs, reduce regulations to support a free market and implement legal reforms to lower property and car insurances. He also supports more STEM education, occupational training and workforce development.
He also says he stands against the “Radical Left” by rooting out “censorship, Marxist CRT [critical race theory] indoctrination and socialism,” stopping illegal immigration and opposing “leftist mandates.” He said he’s “100% Pro-life and Pro 1st and 2nd Amendment.”
He has published several articles articulating his conservative views. In one article, Zhao wrote: “Instead of promoting patriotism, the Biden administration, through the Department of Education, is supporting efforts to indoctrinate our children with critical race theory, which baselessly claims that there is widespread systemic racism against black and Hispanic Americans in modern American society, requiring extensive government redress.”
On his website, he touts his conservative record, saying that he campaigned for former President Trump in the 2020 presidential election and backed the GOP Republican candidates in the Georgia runoff elections.