Special elections were set Friday for the vacancy in Orlando-based House District 44, with primary elections to be held on Aug. 15, and the election on Oct. 10, under an executive order signed by Gov. Rick Scott.

The election is to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Republican former state Rep. Eric Eisnaugle, whom Scott appointed to fill a vacancy on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Already there are five candidates vying for the position, including four Republicans, John Newstreet, Bruno Portigliatti, Bobby Olszewski, and Dr. Usha Jain, and one Democrat, Paul Chandler. All filed for the 2018 election and will have to refile for the special election.

The district, covering much of west Orange County, is solidly Republican, but Democrats have vowed an aggressive get-out-the-vote campaign they hope could make a difference in a low-turnout special election. The seat is particularly attractive to Republicans because of the assumption that the winner could have a leg-up in the quest for the House of Representatives’ speaker’s position, with an 18-month head start in seniority over other members of what will be the House’s class of 2018.


About The Author

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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