ORANGE COUNTY Nearly a year after he finished his term as a Winter Garden city commissioner, Robert “Bobby” Olszewski has a new seat in government — Florida House District 44 representative.
Olszewski, a Republican, defeated Democrat Eduardo Dominguez in a special general election Tuesday, Oct. 10. Olszewski garnered 55.66% (6,936) of the vote, compared to Dominguez’s 44.34% (5,525).
Olszewski celebrated his victory at a volunteer and donor appreciation watch party Tuesday night at Craig Miller’s Field House in Dr. Phillips. As the polls closed at 7 p.m., the small handful of supporters gathered in the private room to wait for election results. When the results were posted online, a round of applause filled the room.
Olszewski arrived, giving his gathered supporters a thumbs up as everyone greeted him with applause and cheers.
“I’m ecstatic that I get the opportunity to represent my hometown community up in Tallahassee,” Olszewski said.
Olszewski said he spent most of the day working to get voters out to the polls.
“I called voters, I walked the precinct, I waved signs, I did everything I could to get every last voter to the polls in District 44,” he said.
He said his primary goal in taking the office is to make sure he represents his constituents.
“I want to make sure all residents are represented and know that they have someone in Tallahassee who has their best interest at heart,” Olszewski said.
In addition to thanking his family for their months of support, he also thanked voters.
“I want to thank everyone who came out and voted for me,” he said.
He also wanted to reassure those who didn’t vote for him that he’s still dedicated to representing them in the capital.
“I truly have their best interest at heart,” Olszewski said. “I’ll do whatever I can to earn their trust and support.”
Within an hour of receiving word of his victory, Olszewski took the oath of office and informed his gathered supporters that he would be reporting to Tallahassee Wednesday morning to begin work.
The win marks a long road on the campaign trail for Olszewski — first in a race for the Orange County District 1 Commissioner seat and later for state District 44.
Before moving on to face Dominguez, Olszewski won the Republican nod in the Aug. 15 primary. In that race, he faced John Newstreet, Bruno Portigliatti and Dr. Usha Jain and obtained 39.77% of the vote.
Originally, Olszewski was supposed to face Democrat Paul Chandler. However, Chandler withdrew from the race Sept. 8, and the party replaced him with Dominguez. However, Chandler’s withdrawal did not come until after ballots were printed, so his name appeared on the ballot.
Of the 124,151 registered voters eligible to cast ballots in the District 44 race, only 12,475 (10.05%) did so. Leading up to Tuesday’s election, more Republicans turned out for early voting (1,114) than Democrats (708), according to the Orange County Supervisor of Elections.
Olszewski will now serve as the District 44 House Representative until Nov. 6, 2018, when all 120 House seats are again up for election. He replaces Eric Eisnaugle, who resigned earlier this year.
District 44 encompasses Southwest Orange County and includes Windermere and Winter Garden.