Juan Lopez was elected Monday evening as the new Chairman of the Orange County Democratic Executive Committee, he succeeds Carlos Smith in the position and will be charged with leading the party into 2016.

Lopez, who works as a District Director for Congressman Alan Grayson, was elected by a margin of 64 to 23 over long time activist and hospitality manager Keith Morrison, who pledged to helped the party regardless of the outcome.

Outgoing Chair Smith told Florida Politics he was proud of the work he accomplished in the role.

“We’ve built a strong machine of candidates here in Orange county and we’re in a great place moving into 2016,” he said.

Smith will now focus on his run for State House in District 49, which is in the eastern part of the County

Lopez will have the early advantage of leading a blue county in the heart of the I-4 corridor and but will have to help the party rebound from a rough 2014, where they lost 3 state house seats, two County Commission races, and multiple local ballot referendums. He’ll also have to work with a state party that at times has been called dysfunctional and keep the peace for what are projected to be two competitive Congressional primaries.

After the election, Lopez said he was overjoyed by the support from his fellow party members and was excited to get moving.

“I feel fantastic and want to thank everyone,” he said. “I’m happy that the body feels confident in me. This is the start of a new, rejuvenated DEC. We’ve been in a downward slope, there is a void in the Democratic party. We’re going to set the things in motion to make us successful. We’re going to win.”

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