ORANGE COUNTY – With 39.77% of the vote, Robert “Bobby” Olszewski won the special Republican primary for Florida House District 44.
“It’s over. We won. It’s over,” Olszewski told friends, family members and supporters during his watch party Tuesday, Aug. 15, at Craig Miller’s Field House Orlando at the Dellagio in Dr. Phillips.
Of the 6,314 ballots cast in the primary, 2,509 voted for Olszewski, leading him to a 99-vote victory over opponent John Newstreet, who took 2,410 votes.
In the final count, Olszewski had 39.77% of the votes; Newstreet won 38.21%; Bruno Portigliatti grabbed 18.2%; and Dr. Usha Jain received 3.79%.
Olszewski, who said he spent the majority of the day visiting voters to gain support, hopes to campaign even harder in the coming months.
“I’m sunburnt; I’m sweaty; and I’m exhausted, but I thank every voter and volunteer who has supported us throughout this entire campaign,” he said.
To those who doubted him, Olszewski said he hopes they give him a chance to earn their support.
“I hope you give me the opportunity to win your vote in October’s election, because no one is more dedicated or cares more about our community than I do,” he said.
Olszewski’s triumph comes even after he received $48,574 less in campaign contributions compared to Newstreet. According to the state department’s Division of Elections, Newstreet raised $124,554 in contributions, while Olszewski raised $75,980.
Olszewski now could face Democrats candidate Paul Chandler in the Oct. 10 general election. However, that remains uncertain given the lawsuit filed against Chandler in the Leon County Circuit Court by Charles Hart Aug. 8. The suit alleges Chandler does not meet state qualifications required to run for office, because he was registered to vote in a Missouri election in November 2016 and only completed a Florida Voter Registration Application on Dec. 29, 2016.
According to the suit, it is impossible for Chandler to have both voted in a Missouri election and be able to comply with the two-year residency requirement for Florida legislators.
If the judge presiding over the case rules against Chandler, Chandler will be disqualified from the race. According to Florida Statute 106.18, if a candidate is disqualified, the political party may fill the vacancy with another individual.
“Any candidate whose name is removed from the ballot pursuant to subsection 2 is disqualified as a candidate for office,” the statute reads. “If the disqualification of such candidate results in a vacancy in nomination, such vacancy shall be filled by a person other than such candidate in the manner provided by law.”
The registration deadline to vote in the general election is Sept. 11.
Contact Gabby Baquero at [email protected]