- November 3, 2010
Citizens made their opinions clear when they voted for a nonpartisan Orange County mayoral race in 1992. But the race between Orange County Commissioner Bill Segal and former commissioner Teresa Jacobs has taken on a partisan feel that both candidates are decrying and blaming each other’s political parties for pushing.
Debates and attack ads are heating up this race for mayor before the Nov. 2 general election.
During an Oct. 6 debate hosted by the League of Women Voters of Florida, Segal said he hates the feel of a partisan election, and shifted the blame to Jacobs and the Republican Party’s “Dangerous Duo” mailer, in which he’s linked to President Obama and Jacobs criticized him for not disclosing information about business partners and his attendance at men-only parties.
“This is an interjection of one party to attack me and make [the race] partisan,” Segal said.
During the debate, he claimed that Jacobs attended a Republican Party event with Sarah Palin in order to raise money that is being used to attack him but Jacobs says she was only in attendance.
“Sarah Palin wouldn’t recognize me if she saw me in the streets,” she said.
The Democratic Party recently sent out mailers depicting Jacobs as a superhero stealing a bag of money and calling her “Taxing Teresa.”
“I’m sure the voters are tired of it,” she said. “But I don’t hold Bill accountable for the mailers.”
Jacobs’ personal issues with Segal stems from his attacks on her character, saying it’s all lies.
“Bill has painted a different picture of me,” she said. “And he lied about facts.”
In Segal’s recent attacks, Jacobs was accused of voting to raise taxes by more than $1 billion from 2000 to 2008, but she says that she was not on the board for the 2000 and 2001 budget votes.
She says that Segal is misleading the public and claims she was the only commissioner to vote against a $600 million budget increase in 2006.
“The public has a right to know accurate information,” Jacobs said.
Each candidate said they do not think the partisan behavior will affect voters. University of Central Florida political scientist Aubrey Jewett disagrees.
He said that a typical partisan election in Orange County would benefit Democrat candidates because there are many more registered Democrats.
According to the Orange County Supervisor of Elections website, there are more than 272,000 registered Democrats and 191,000 Republicans — an 81,000 difference.
But Jewett thinks that this year will be different from years past.
“Oddly enough, it is actually going to help Jacobs because of backlash from those against Obama,” he said. “Jacobs is probably the favorite.”
Jewett also said that the attack ads can work, but if they are over the top or untrue they can backfire.
Orange County Commissioner Linda Stewart said the race has never been this partisan before and blames it on the media.
Stewart, who also ran for mayor but lost in the primary, said both candidates are trying to be nonpartisan but “it’s impossible to do it.”
“They should change [the race] to partisan if it’s going to be like this,” she said.
Despite being a registered Democrat, Stewart is considering endorsing Jacobs. But she does not see it as going against her party.
“I’m not going against anything, besides my own political beliefs,” she said. “But it is based on the person.”
Stewart said that she and Jacobs are more aligned on issues such as high-speed rail, public transportation and minority women in small business. She will not consider endorsing Segal because of his environmental record.
“I cannot endorse a pave over of Orange County,” she said.