Flanked by her successor in the Florida Senate, Democratic state Sen. Randolph Bracy, Republican former Orange County Commissioner Scott Boyd, and others, Democratic House candidate Geraldine Thompson vowed she’s the Democrat who can flip a district forever held by Republicans.
Thompson, a state senator for four years and state representative for eight years in a previous tenure in another district, argued that she “knows the ropes” and, a point she stressed repeatedly, has established relationships with many current lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
Thompson faces three Democrats in the August 28 primary in House District 44, covering southwest Orange County, Eddy Dominguez, Margaret Melanie Gold, and Matthew Matin. All of them want a shot at Republican state Rep. Bobby Olszewski next fall, in a district that in previous elections Democrats didn’t bother to put up any candidates.
Those points and her name recognition, as someone who has been elected to represent the HD 44 voters when she was in the Senate, led her to express confidence that she would be the first non-Republican to win.
“Of the four individuals I am the only one who has run a campaign, who has been elected to office. Oakland is a community I served when I was the senator who represented District 12,” Thompson said. “I have a proven track record of getting things done. You might speculate, you might surmise what other individuals might don But you can look at my track record to see the kinds of things I have been capable of doing to do in the past. To look at what a person has done gives you an indication of what they will do.”
She charged that prior to the last redistricting the area was gerrymandered to the point that it was impossible for Democrats, but now she judged the district to be about even, with roughly 45,000 Republican registered voters, 41,000 Democratic registered voters, and 40,000 independent voters.
Bracy, who has been friends with Olszewski since high school and once endorsed him in a failed Orange County Commission run, said Thompson has been a family friend for decades, and that he watched and learned from her when he first came to the Florida House.
“She has always been a tireless advocate for the Central Florida region. She’s always been an excellent legislator. She’s always knowledgable about every bill being debated and passionate in her progressive stance on issues of importance,” said Bracy. “She is still well respected amongst lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, for her fierce advocacy, her solution-oriented approach to matters important to our state, but also for her work back home in west Orange County.”
Boyd, who is a Republican political rival of Olszewski’s who has twice previously endorsed his opponents, spared no enthusiasm in extolling Thompson.
“We are in need of great leadership here in House District 44 and you are absolutely the candidate that will take that to the next level,” Boyd said. “I know first hand, I’ve seen her ability to work across party lines. I’ve seen how she has worked with our municipalities within the district she has represented, and the hard work she will represent for us…. I think she is the most absolute, most well-equipped individual that we will have for House District 44 and I am 150 percent standing behind her bid.”
At an event on the front steps of the Oakland Town Hall joined by Oakland Mayor Kathy Stark and Oakland Town Commissioners Joseph McMullen and Rick Polland, Thompson and her supporters characterized her as someone who delivered state resources to Oakland and other parts of west Orange County she has previously represented.
The event was arranged to roll out their endorsements, along with those of Bracy, Boyd, and others who did not attend, including Democratic state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith and Orange County Clerk of Courts Tiffany Moore Russell.
“She has been a champion of the town of Oakland during her time previously in Tallahassee,” Stark said, crediting her with bringing the state funding necessary to bring sewer service to the town, among others.
“I waged this kind of fight for Oakland, for Winter Garden, for Apopka, because west Orange County is the center of growth. This is where the growth is going to be. We see with with Horizons West there are going to be thousands of new people in west Orange County, and want to support economic development in west Orange County,” Thompson said.