Republican state Rep. Scott Plakon will be declared re-elected to his seat in Florida’s House District 29 at 5 p.m. Friday because the Florida Democratic Party will not nominate a replacement candidate for Fred Marra, who dropped out last week.
Plakon has been in limbo for seven days since Marra dropped out Sept. 30 for health reasons and because the Orlando Sentinel had dug up an old larceny charge against Marra that the Democrat had never disclosed in campaign statements.
But the Florida Democratic Party conceded Friday afternoon it was unable to find a replacement candidate and the deadline for doing so is 5 p.m. Friday. With no one else running, the Florida Division of Elections advised Plakon Friday it was preparing to declare him the winner at 5 p.m.
“I’m grateful for the high honor it’s been to be able to serve the residents of District 29 in Tallahassee,” Plakon stated after being advised by FloridaPolitics.com he would indeed win. “I’m even more grateful that I’ll be able to continue for another term. I look forward to working with my colleagues on policy that will keep Florida moving in the direction of continued job creation and a robust public education system that also insures that parents are empowered to make the best choices for their children.”
This is a district, representing southwest Seminole County, that has flipped in each of the past two elections. And Plakon, though he has a reputation of being able to work across the aisle on mutually beneficial issues, is a strong conservative and reliable Republican vote on issues ranging from abortion to guns to fracking to school choice. So while Republicans embrace his views, Democrats target him almost across the board on issues.
But this year the Democrats never put in much effort.
Marra, who had achieved some political credibility three years ago when he led a petition drive to ban fracking in Seminole County, raised almost no money and did very little campaigning until September.
Plakon, on the other hand, had won election three times previously [twice in another district,] though he lost in 2012. He has high name recognition, and the district leans Republican. And while he has campaigned and fundraised very little himself since he and his wife were in a serious automobile crash in early July, he had $50,000 in the bank, about $49,000 more than Marra had.
Florida Democratic Party spokesman Max Steele indicated the party was strapped with other chores this past week and simply did not have time to recruit and vet a strong candidate for what promised to be a difficult race. Marra’s name would have been on the ballot [it still is] and the replacement candidate would have had just a month to convince Seminole County voters he or she was worth a vote. Marra had no primary, so there was no obvious second-place finisher to promote.
Still, Steele said the final decision did not come until Friday afternoon that no one would be available.