Tiger Bay Club of Central Florida is hosting a “lively debate” in July with four Republican candidates for the special election in Florida House District 44.

The social and candidate debate, co-hosted by BusinessForce, the political wing of the Orlando chamber of commerce, is Wednesday, July 12, beginning 5:30 at the Dubsdread Ballroom, 549 West Par Street in College Park.

Qualified candidates to appear at the forum are Bruno Portigliatti, executive vice president of Florida Christian University; John Newstreet, CEO of the Kissimmee/Osceola Chamber of Commerce; Bobby Olszewski, a former Winter Garden commissioner, and Dr. Usha Jain, a medical director of an emergency clinic.

HD 44, which includes western Orange County, and the cities of Winter Garden and Windermere, will hold a special primary Aug. 15 to replace former state Rep. Eric Eisnaugle.

The GOP primary winner will face Democrat Paul Chandler, owner of Ohana Healthcare, in the Oct. 10 general election. Chandler ran unopposed in his party’s primary.

The seat opened in May, when Gov. Rick Scott named Eisnaugle to the 5th District Court of Appeals to replace Alan Lawson, who was appointed to the Florida Supreme Court. Eisnaugle was first elected to the House in 2008, serving through 2012, when he opted not to seek re-election after redistricting.

In 2014, he defeated Democrat Shawn Raja with 74 percent of the vote in an HD 44 special election, later defeating independent Matthew Falconer with 65 percent of the vote. He ran unopposed in 2016.

Voter registration in the district favors Republicans by about 8 percent.

The Tiger Bay debate, co-sponsored by BusinessForce is free for members, $20 for nonmembers. Registration begins 5:30 p.m., the debate begins at 6:30 p.m. Online RSVPs are requested, with a July 10 deadline.


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