Republican Rep. Rene Plasencia’s lone challenger dropped out of the race for House District 50, leaving “Coach P” unopposed for the time being.
Democrat Kyle Walcott, a Northwestern University alumnus, filed to run for the seat at the end of June, and from his filing date through his official exit on Oct. 20, he reported no contributions for his campaign.
He also failed to turn in a campaign finance report for September, leading to a couple fail to file letters from the Florida Division of Elections. With his exit, he has until Jan. 18, 2018, to file his final report.
Shortly after filing, Walcott said he planned to campaign on bringing ranked choice voting to Florida. The alternative voting system, also known as “instant runoff,” has voters rank candidates. If no candidate gets a majority, the candidate with the least number of votes is removed from the pool and voters’ second choice is added to the tally.
Plasencia has only held the HD 50 seat since November, when he replaced fellow Republican Rep. Tom Goodson in a game of musical chairs among House Republicans.
Plasencia ditched his re-election in left-leaning HD 49 to take over the more GOP-friendly HD 50, while Goodson left that seat to take over the even more safe Republican seat in HD 51, thanks to former House Speaker Steve Crisafulli hitting term limits.
The seat, which covers eastern Orange County into western Brevard County including Titusville, looks competitive for Democrats on paper but isn’t in practice.
According to 2016 district statistics, about 37 percent of the electorate are registered Republicans, compared to about 34 percent for Democrats – a difference of about 3,000 voters.
Despite the small margin, Plasencia dispatched 2016 Democratic challenger Sean Ashby by nearly 15 points on Election Day.
So far, Plasencia’s 2018 campaign has raised $76,200 and had about $51,000 of that money on hand at the end of September. His next campaign finance report, covering October, is due by Nov. 13.