Edwards edges out Kinson to win commission seat
At 7:15 p.m. Tuesday, Ted Edwards still had a roll of tape he used earlier for campaigning in his hand as he walked with his twin sons, Charlie and Blaise, 15. They were at the end of a long campaign that ended in the Park Plaza Gardens restaurant in Winter Park.
In a little more than 90 minutes, Edwards won the District 5 seat on the Orange County Commission.
But at that moment, fresh back from last-minute campaigning, he was still in another moment.
"It's been a lot of hard work," Edwards, a former county commissioner, said. "We're optimistic at this point."
He was staring down poll numbers on a television screen showing him up by nearly 10 percentage points on Maitland Mayor Doug Kinson. By 9:30 p.m., that gap would have widened to more than 14 points.
Edwards said he was happy to get so much support in his campaign.
"It's overwhelming the support we've gotten," he said, vowing to help fix the county budget and focus on core services.
"We're going to have to tighten its belt," he said of the county's current budget.
At Antonio's restaurant in Maitland, Mayor Doug Kinson's District 5 campaign party was more somber as he watched the returns pass 50 percent on a small television screen behind a bar with his family chatting away around him.
"Early on, we knew he'd be outspending us three or four to one," Kinson said. "With the money that we had, we outworked them. We were in every neighborhood in the county."
Still optimistic, he had some kind words for his campaign supporters and volunteers.
"No matter how this shapes up, we did everything we could, and I'm going to work to help this district irrespective of who sits in District 5 seat," Kinson said.
Orange County mayor
And then there were two.
With 42 percent of the votes, former Orange County Commissioner Teresa Jacobs was close to owning the primary election Tuesday night without the need for a runoff for the general election.
Instead, she will square off in November with Orange County District 5 Commissioner Bill Segal for the title of Orange County mayor.
From the beginning of the night, Jacobs pulled ahead of her five contenders in the Aug. 24 primary.
"It was awesome," Jacobs said. "We were right there from the get go."
Segal and Orange County District 4 Commissioner Linda Stewart were nearly neck-and-neck as the votes poured in Tuesday night but it was Segal who prevailed with 22 percent. Stewart won 19 percent and Matthew Falconer trailed with 15 percent.
"I'm feeling great," Segal said. "We just wanted to get in to the runoff, and we did it."
Both Segal and Jacobs spent the last few days waiving signs, shaking hands and making any other last-ditch effort to get their names in the heads of voters. As far as the issues go, Jacobs has said she will improve the quality of life in Orange County by focusing on transportation, public safety, schools and ethics.
"Now it's on for Nov. 2, and we will use the same strategy as we had this time — run a good, clean, honest campaign about the issues and my record and have plenty of volunteers helping to get the word out," she said.
Meanwhile, Segal's mantra during his campaign has been bringing high-tech, high-wage jobs to the county with a focus on the Innovation Way corridor. He's confident that he will be the one dominating the votes in the November election.
"It will be a totally new ballgame because we will get two and a half to three times as many people out to vote," he said. "The people who turned out in this race were very partisan — these were Teresa's voters. We're looking for a better, more centrist electorate who are more representative of the people of Orange County."
U.S. House District 24
In the Republican primary for U.S. Representative in District 24, it was a nail-biter between State Rep. Sandy Adams and former Winter Park Commissioner Karen Diebel, who were within 1 percent of each other four hours after the polls closed. Adams prevailed.
The District 33 representative and former Orange County deputy gathered with supporters in Oviedo on Tuesday night, just miles north of the University of Central Florida.
Everyone was huddled around a tiny television watching and waiting as the poll results came in. After a back and forth struggle, Adams edged out Diebel by less than 600 votes.
Adams waited until the last minute to accept what her supporters had been alluding to all night, that she, in fact, had won.
She is prepared to continue her campaign, as she will face incumbent Suzanne Kosmas in the November general election.
"We have done the right thing, and will continue to do the right thing," Adams said.
At the end of a long campaign, Diebel said she was happy to be at her victory party.
"It feels great to be here with my family and all the people who supported me," Diebel said. "I'd do this all again in a heartbeat."
In the Democratic primary, Kosmas faced Paul Partyka and won in a landslide.
Kosmas reeled in nearly 17,000 more votes than Partyka, much to the delight of the congresswoman, who was celebrating with family and supporters in New Smyrna Beach.
"I am excited to be here with family and supporters," she said.
But she does want to send a message to the voters in the district that she appreciates their realization that this is a critical election for Florida.
"We are prepared to do everything to help people realize that there is a clear choice," she said.