With the entry of businessman and veteran Chadwick Hardee last week, Republican Rep. Rene Plasencia is now facing a three-way primary race as he looks to shift over to HD 50.

Hardee had been thinking about a run in HD 50 last year, but opted to drop out after Plasencia called him up and told him his intentions.

“Rene is a close, personal friend of mine…,” Hardee said back in April 2015. “I told him I would not run against a friend.”

Hardee changed his mind and opted to jump into the HD 50 race to replace Republican Rep. Tom Goodson, who himself is shifting over to termed-out House Speaker Steve Crisafulli’s HD51 seat.

In the 2014 cycle Hardee ran for the open District 3 seat on the Orange County School Board, but lost out with 17.2 percent of the vote in a four-way race for the nonpartisan seat.

In that election, he ran on the platform of allowing open comments at school board meetings and noted that part-time school board members were paid $5,000 more than first-year teachers in public schools.

Hardee’s background includes a career in the hospitality industry, where he worked for high end hotels including Ritz-Carlton and Waldorf Astoria locations.

His work as a bath butler for the Ritz-Carlton led him to start Couture Soap, which supplies hotels with high end bath products.

His entry into the race certainly complicates things for Plasencia, who is also facing a challenge from Republican Valencia College professor George Collins, who ran against Goodson in the Republican Primary in 2014.

Through the end of January, Plasencia leads all candidates with about $78,000 on hand. Collins has about $22,000 on hand, mainly due to more than $22,000 in loans he has made to his campaign.

Also in the race is Democrat Shaun Ashby, who ran against Goodson in 2012, losing with 47 percent of the vote. He had less than $1,000 on hand as of his January finance report, putting him ahead of only no-party candidate Tiffany Dziekan, who has $0 in her campaign account.

HD 50 has a Republican advantage, and Plasencia likely faces better odds winning the seat after a contentious primary than he would if he ran again in left-leaning HD 49. Voter registration statistics show the GOP has about 41,000 registered voters compared to 39,000 for Democrats. The district also has 29,000 voters not registered for either party.

About The Author

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for SaintPetersBlog and FloridaPolitics.com. While at the University of Florida, Wilson was an editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and after graduation, he moved to Los Angeles to cover business deals for The Hollywood Reporter. Before joining Extensive Enterprises, Wilson covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools.

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