Bobby Olszewski, the two-time Winter Garden City Commissioner, gets the nod from the Orlando Sentinel in the special Republican primary for House District 44.
Republican former Rep. Eric Eisnaugle resigned the seat in May after Gov. Rick Scott appointed him to the 5th District Court of Appeal.
Four Republicans in total are vying to be party’s nominee.
The winner of the Aug. 15 primary will face Democrat Paul Chandler, in an Oct. 10 general election.
HD 44, which comprises much of southwest Orange County, includes Lake Buena Vista, Windermere, Dr. Phillips, Oakland and Winter Garden, where Olszewski served on the city commission.
The Sentinel editorial board gave Olszewski an edge over the other two candidates — John Newstreet and Bruno Portigliatti — for his “particular public service and his pragmatic campaign platform.”
Olszewski would be going to the Florida House during a time when state legislators are attacking home rule — the ability for municipalities to keep local control.
As the manager of a consulting group, and former city commissioner, Olszewski “especially understands the importance of home rule,” the Sentinel writes. “That, along with his deep roots in the district, might explain why he’s earned endorsements from a long list of current and former local officials throughout District 44, including Windermere Mayor Gary Bruhn, the president of the Florida League of Mayors and an outspoken advocate for protecting home rule. Bruhn was named the Florida League of Cities’ Home Rule Hero this year.”
The Sentinel also cites Olszewski’s “wisely sharpened” focus on three priorities — low taxes, economic development policies and improvements in education — which are all correctly under the purview of the state.
While having similar policies, Newstreet, the CEO of the Kissimmee-Osceola County Chamber of Commerce, also advocates fighting illegal immigration, a federal responsibility outside the state’s reach.
The Sentinel notes: “Too many times in recent years, legislators have engaged in divisive, distracting battles to pass legally dubious measures on issues like these while shortchanging their core responsibilities — like completing a budget on time.
As a lawyer and businessman, Portigliatti advocates low taxes and education, good for a state legislator. However, he also seeks to protect “Judeo-Christian values” and social issues such as opposing abortion, protecting gun rights — matters that are tangential for legislators to do their jobs.
With a proper focus on the issues necessary for state lawmakers to fulfill their responsibilities, the Sentinel feels Olszewski is the best choice for the Republican HD 44 primary.