Republican businessman and youth pastor Peter Vivaldi of Windermere has filed to run for the Florida Senate in the Orlando-based Senate District 15.
Vivaldi, 54, said Thursday he decided to run after spending much of this past session of the Florida Legislature in Tallahassee advocating on issues ranging from education choice to religious freedom.
Vivaldi ran for Congress in 2014 in Congressional District 9, finishing third in the Republican primary behind Carol Platt and Jorge Bonilla. Last fall he considered a run for the Florida House of Representatives.
“I learned a big lesson in the last race: truly, all politics are local. I got to breath that in the last session in Tallahassee,” he said Thursday.
The SD 15 field currently has two Democrats, state Rep. Victor Torres of Orlando and Bob Healy Jr., a Kissimmee funeral home owner. The incumbent, state Sen. Darren Soto, an Orlando Democrat, is running for Congress rather than for reelection.
Vivaldi was critical of Torres, saying he has passed only one bill and has never run a campaign, suggesting he is out of touch with much of the district, which includes much of Osceola County and a large portion of southern Orange County. [Torres ran unopposed in 2012 and 2014.]
Vivaldi said the economic message that needs to be about creation of new jobs, not a push for increased minimum wage, which Torres has championed.
“I had a choice of either sitting back on the sidelines and allow a Victor Torres,” Vivaldi said. “I saw how he worked up in Tallahassee; I feel he’s not the right fit, either for the area I live in or Osceola County.”