- August 26, 2014
Independent voters may expect a razor-thin ballot on Primary Election Day, Aug. 14, but they’d be wrong. They’ll have a chance to put eight candidates in office, or at least to give them a push to the general election in November. And it’s an even wider selection with Democratic and Republican voters, with 13 choices each to be made on their respective ballots.
For some, the votes have already been cast. More than 5,000 voters turned out for early voting in just the first three days of the eight-day early voting period that began Aug. 4, Orange County Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles said.
With many voters showing up on Monday — typically a slow day at the polls — Cowles said that he’s expecting a strong turnout during the workweek, accelerating through the final day of early voting, Saturday, Aug. 11.
“I would expect we’ll see a gradual increase each day toward the end,” he said.
But that will still represent only a small percentage of eligible voters in the county, most of whom are expected to vote on Primary Election Day on Tuesday, Aug. 14. As of July, there were 651,285 registered voters in the county.
Infobox: Campaign funds of Republican candidates for U.S. Rep. District 7 as of July 25:
John Mica — $969,000
Sandy Adams — $453,000
Early voting for the primary election runs through Saturday, Aug. 11, at the Winter Park Library, 460 E. New England Ave., from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Visit www.orangecountyvotes.com
They’ll have a lot to vote on, including candidates for incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson’s U.S. Senate seat, state attorney, six judges’ seats, state committee for the Democratic and Republican parties and Orange County Commission District 5. But the most visible race is for the U.S. Representative District 7 seat, being challenged by four candidates.
On the Democratic side, Jason Kendall and Nick Ruiz both are hoping to bring a younger perspective to the office, though both position themselves as fiscal conservatives. On the Republican side, two well-known incumbents are running against each other in the wake of redistricting changes – U.S. Rep. John Mica and U.S. Rep. Sandy Adams both have roots in the area.
By the time the dust clears on Aug. 14, two candidates will emerge for the general election season.
Adams, who had been hopping around early voting locations last weekend, said she’s seen “a good steady flow of people so far.”
Adams said her campaign is “busy doing the grassroots thing,” making phone calls and going door-to-door as the primary season comes to a close.
Both were still pushing for money as they were pushing for endorsements. Adams had $453,000 in campaign funds nearing the end of July, plus endorsements from the Tea Party Express, Florida Police Benevolent Association, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and U.S. Reps. Allen West, Rich Nugent and Dennis Ross.
Mica enjoys advantages in fundraising and local endorsements, with more than $960,000 in campaign funds and endorsements from Winter Park Mayor Ken Bradley and Vice Mayor Steven Leary.
“We’re very pleased with the local support,” Mica said. “It’s been substantial. I was not only endorsed by Ken Bradley but by I think every former mayor we could find.”
That may not influence absentee voters in the primary, as they’ve already been voting early and in droves, said Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Michael Ertel, who reported that he’s seen more absentee ballots cast in Seminole County in the first weekend than the entire voting period in 2008.
The heavily contested U.S. House District 7 fills a large portion of Seminole County, branching down into Winter Park and Maitland and parts of east Orange County.
“We’ve seen a dramatic increase in early voters so far,” Ertel said.