Republican candidates in West Orange handily win several races, though not a sweep.
Editor in Chief
Wednesday, November 9, 2022
Republicans win in West Orange County, but it's not a sweep.
While the rest of the country was still awaiting results to determine which party would control the House and the Senate and just how much of a drubbing Mehmet Oz would get in Pennsylvania, the races in West Orange had been called by 7:45 p.m. and they were predictable. Unsurprisingly, Republicans largely won.
11th Congressional District
Republican Rep. Daniel Webster was elected to his sixth term in the U.S. House, easily beating political newcomer Democrat Shante Munns with nearly 54 percent of the vote. The only surprise was how well Munns did, garnering 45 percent of the vote. She had a small budget, no help from the Democratic Party and did no media. When the new Congress convenes in early January, the conservative Webster will likely re-introduce and co-sponsor several “culture war” bills. For example, in the current term he has proposed legislation to undo President Biden’s executive orders protecting reproductive rights; a bill to allow pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions for abortion pills; and a bill that would prevent events like drag queen story times at any venue, including libraries and parks, that receive federal funding.
State Senate District 13
Republican state Sen. Dennis Baxley, formerly of District 12, won a second term, this time in the newly redrawn District 13 (which includes southwest Orange County) against Democrat Stephanie Dukes, a retired occupational therapist in Leon County and Miami-Dade public schools. Neither had had a primary challenge and so faced off in the general election. Baxley has a long reputation for being a hardline conservative on issues from abortion, guns, voting and LGBTQ+ rights.
House District 39
Doug Bankson, an Apopka city councilman, founding pastor of the evangelical Victory Church and World Outreach Center, and 2020 election “questioner,” won an open House seat over Tiffany Hughes, with 53 percent of the vote. Hughes is owner of a staffing agency and former president of the Orange County NAACP. The Florida House Republican Campaign Committee poured money into the race, according to campaign filings, giving Bankson $49,089 just after the primary. The Republican Party of Florida added $66,002 to Bankson’s coffers in the final months of the race. The Florida Democratic Party funded Hughes with $63,700.
VoxPopuli asked Bankson how he was feeling after the race was called for him. “We are so excited for this phenomenal night across the state, and for the results of tonight’s race!,” Bankson texted. “The voters of Florida’s 39th District have spoken, and I am grateful for the honor they have entrusted me with. I am deeply grateful to God, my wife, my family, our team, and all the supporters who have worked so hard for us to stand here together.”
Bankson said he was ready “to stand up for life and liberty, for faith, family, and freedom, for our veterans and first responders, and for the needs of the people I represent.”
House District 40
Democrat and political activist LaVon Bracy Davis was widely expected to win this race against first-timer conservative Republican pharmaceuticals distributor Nate Robertson. She won the seat with 64 percent of the vote. When asked for comment after the race was called, she texted VoxPopuli, “The people of district 40 spoke decisively tonight. They said they want a representative who will speak up for them in Tallahassee and bring home resources to the district. I’m excited to do the work!”
House District 41
Bruce Antone joins state Sen. Geraldine Thompson of Senate District 15, in reclaiming seats they’ve occupied once before. Antone, who served six terms in the Florida House before term limits forced him out, reclaimed his seat in a landslide victory over Green Party candidate Robin Denise Harris. He captured 81 percent of the vote.
House District 45
Known for her ubiquitous signs, Central Christian University Executive Vice President Carolina Amesty aligned herself firmly with Gov. Ron DeSantis, and it paid off with a win for her for an open seat. She received nearly 54 percent of the vote against Allie Braswell, a vice president of Vystar Credit Union and civil rights leader. The Republican Party sank big money into this election, according to campaign filings. The Florida House Campaign Committee gave $25,356 to Amesty’s campaign in two payments on Nov. 2 and Nov. 3. And that was in addition to the $62,613 it had already given. The Republican Party of Florida also donated $39,468 to Amesty, who started her campaign by loaning herself $200,000 of her own money. The Florida Democratic Party floated Braswell $3,250 after Labor Day. It delivered $50,000 on Nov. 3. By that time, between Amesty’s blanket signage and attack ads, the race was hers.
Amesty’s website didn’t outline any proposals and she put forth few concrete solutions for pressing problems, such as property insurance or affordable housing, during her candidate forum with the Orlando Sentinel. We’ll have to wait to see what she does once she’s in office.