State Rep. Bobby Olszewski has qualified by petition for the ballot in his quest to be re-elected for House District 44.

Olszewski, a Winter Garden Republican, turned in 1,386 verified petition signatures, needing only 1,182 to qualify.

That makes him the first candidate to qualify in HD 44 covering southwest Orange County, where he was elected last fall in a special election.

Four Democrats, former state Sen. Geraldine Thompson, businessman Eddy Dominguez, real estate agent Matthew Matin, and activist Margaret Melanie Gold, and one Republican, Dr. Usha Jain, also have declared their candidacies to run there. Olszewski defeated Dominguez in the special election last October, and defeated Jain in the Republican primary ten weeks earlier.

Olszewski noted that he was able to gather the signatures and raise more than $90,000 so far for his re-election even though he had to leave for Tallahassee the day after winning the special election and has spent much of the past six months either in House committee meetings or the Legislative session.

“I am thrilled that we are already approaching $90,000 when you consider both the holiday season and session that we have only had five full months to fundraise for re-election,” he said in a written statement. “It is truly a testament to the strength of our ground game here in Florida House District 44 to collect 1,400 petitions in just two months after coming home from Tallahassee. I was out walking practically every day along with my campaign manager Samantha Surdin as well as countless volunteers. We have been and will be walking every day until Election Day in November.”

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