Frank Torres, Orlando Freelance Reporter

Archive for March, 2012|Monthly archive page

CF News 13: Orlando mayoral race affects more than just city beautiful

In Uncategorized on March 31, 2012 at 12:19 pm

Here is a CF News 13 story I provided analysis on.


By Margaret Kavanagh , Reporter


If you don’t live in Orlando, you may not think next week’s election for Orlando Mayor has an impact on you – but it does.

The candidates include the current Mayor Buddy Dyer, Orlando City Commissioner Phil Diamond, political activist Mike Cantone and businessman Ken Mulvaney.

The job has a big say in everything from tourism to transportation.

News 13 political analyst Frank Torres said the person selected to run the City of Orlando for the next four years will have a plate full of projects and concerns for both the city and the entire region.

“I am telling you that the winner of Tuesday’s elections will be arguable the most important person for Central Florida moving forward,” Torres said.

And right now the City of Orlando is moving forward in a time when the region has a lot at stake.

“We’ve got so many things going on. The Amway center is still new,” Torres said. “We’ve got SunRail coming, the performing arts center just across the way is being constructed, so there are a lot of important things going on in Orlando.”

He said those projects in Orlando will impacts jobs and the economy in the area.

“A lot of contractors or people working in that industry will commute to Orlando to work in the city and make sure those projects get completed,” Torres said.

While incumbent Mayor Buddy Dyer talked about his accomplishments with the growth of the city, his opponents were critical of the way tax money has been spent, and talked about how they would run the city differently during a debate earlier this month.

But most importantly, tourism is the greatest economic driver for Central Florida.

“We are still the number one vacation destination in the world and that is our reputation with the world,” Torres said. “And that’s where this Orlando’s mayor’s race really becomes important.”

The key items are to lure national events to the Orange County Convention Center and the Amway Center, to continue to get people on flights headed to the Orlando International Airport, and work as an ambassador to the city.

Orlando Mayoral Candidates- Ken Mulvaney, Mayor Buddy Dyer, Phil Diamond, Mike Cantone

Saturday Morning Political Headlines- Earl Wood not seeking re-election and Buddy Dyer Weight Loss Tips

In Uncategorized on March 31, 2012 at 12:13 pm

It’s a gray Saturday morning in Orlando but there’s plenty to read in the political arena. Here are your morning political headlines.

WESH 2: Gov. Rick Scott Talks About Trayvon Case In Orlando (Video)

WKMG 6 Local 6: Tax collector (Earl Wood) will not seek reelection

WFTV 9 Eyewitness News: After 48 years Orange County tax collector (Earl Wood) will step down

CF News 13: Orlando mayoral race affects more than just city beautiful

WOFL Fox 35: Buddy Dyer’s weight loss tips VIDEO(I know you’re curious!)

Orlando Sentinel
Tax Collector Earl K. Wood, 95, will not seek re-election

Earl K. Wood will not seek re-election

Orlando Mayor Race Prediction: Buddy Dyer wins Re-election

In Uncategorized on March 30, 2012 at 6:15 pm

UPDATE: Results from the Mayor Race here.

It’s been an entertaining campaign and the candidates for Orlando Mayor have been pounding the pavement meeting voters and getting their message out for the big day on April 3rd.

We’ve had debates, press conferences, name calling, and TV commercials and we’ve gotten to know these candidates pretty well. The one thing we’re absolutely sure of?

The personalities of these candidates are as different as communities in the city their trying to lead.

It’s time for a prediction and I’ve got one. Let’s break it down by each candidate.

Businessman Ken Mulvaney

Strengths: A proven business record. He came to the country years ago and grew his success with only a vision. It’s a non partisan race but if you vote the party line regardless, he’s the only Republican running. His real estate assets have served him well in his GOTV efforts. It doesn’t hurt have the building next to the Supervisor of Elections with your campaign’s presence.

Weaknesses: Late entry. He jumped in shortly before the deadline. He’s too soft spoken during the debates and while trying to sound humble doesn’t always get his points across.

Memorable Campaign Moment: His joint press conference with fellow candidate Mike Cantone and others calling for the investigation of Buddy Dyer’s absentee ballot operations.

Projected Finish 3rd: His late start and the absence of specifics in his message will hurt his chances.

Mulvaney has done fine after a late start but it won't be enough

Community Organizer Mike Cantone:

Strengths: The guy is a gifted public speaker and has turned what could have been a snoozer of an election into an entertaining race. It was his idea to push a full term pledge against Buddy Dyer when his name started popping as a gubernatorial challenge to Rick Scott in 2014, and he’s the only candidate that has been using Social Media to his advantage.

Weaknesses: At times he’s very partisan, modeling his platform after the some of the President’s programs. With unemployment high this could turn away some voters. He’s also a natural attacker which has gotten the best of him at some of the debates and thrown him off message. He’s the only candidate that voters haven’t seen on a ballot before.

Memorable Campaign Moment: There have been many. I would have to say it was during his Orlando Sentinel Op-Ed interview. A lot of candidates buckle in the pressure cooker, he sounded pretty strong.

Projected Finish 4th: The lack of name ID will hurt him and his campaign presence downtown is almost non-existant He’s only 28. He’ll be back and giving future opponents headaches for a long time to come. He’s got a bright future.

Cantone has a bright future ahead of him

Commissioner Phil Diamond.

Strengths: He’s Dyer’s strongest challenger. His knowledge from his time on the City Commission gives him the knowledge to challenge the Mayor at every turn. It’s also the advantage that lets him add substance and credibility to his attacks on the Buddys’ policies. He’s ran a great campaign and he’ll have the biggest presence on the lawns of Orlando voters heading into Tuesday.

Weaknesses:It’s not a deal breaker with voters but it’s identity. I say this because no one knows Diamond’s party affiliation. He’s often confused as being Republican because of the conservative alternatives he presents but, Diamond is a Democrat. Other than that Phil Diamond is a very solid alternative to Buddy Dyer.

Most Memorable Campaign Moment: The College Park Forum when he declared he liked the Mayor but then went through the city’s big expenditures like a wrecking ball.

Projected Finish 2nd: If this was a one on one contest, I might have leaned Diamond’s way but, I think the anti-buddy vote gets split and Diamond narrowly misses.

Diamond is a worthy opponent for the Mayor but his vote will be divided among the other alternatives.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer:

Strengths: Money… Dollar, Dollar bill. Mayor Dyer has plenty of it and along with all of the other resources an incumbent has at their disposal. He’s got connections with all of the power brokers in the city and this is when advocating for big development downtown will pay off. He’s got a Super-pac and he’s been able to recycle a strong State of the City address into a friendly campaign message. He was endorsed by the Orlando Sentinel and it did take a lot of discipline not to lash out at one of his critics during the debates. Then there are the TV ads.

Weaknesses: Having three guys attack you at once during a debate. A group of fiscally conservative voters that didn’t like the Amway Center deal with the Orlando Magic or Sunrail. He still doesn’t have an answer for the homelessness problem in the city and voters did elect a cautious, number cruncher as Orange County Mayor in 2010.

Most Memorable Campaign Moment: At the Florida Forward Debate “I’m flattered all of my opponents think I’ve done such a great job that I should run for Governor”

Projected Finish 1st: He’s got the money, the message, and operations in place for victory. The other three candidates will divide the anti-buddy vote and Mayor Dyer will be re-elected. The only question is by how much?

Dyer should have more to smile about after Tuesday.

So, there you have it. We’ll see how it all plays out on Tuesday. It’s a great race to kick off the election cycle.

Friday Morning Political Headlines- Grayson’s campaign in District 9. 3/30/12

In Uncategorized on March 30, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Happy Friday! Here are your morning political headlines from local TV and print media.

WESH 2 (by way of CNN) – Poll: Romney Leads In Wisconsin, Falls Against Obama

WKMG Local 6 (by way of AP)Gov. Scott tries to attract New York businesses

WFTV 9 Eyewitness News: VIDEO 9 Investigates: Luxury trips by congressional leaders (CBS This morning ran the same story last week on their broadcast)

CF News 13: Gov. Scott to sign Workforce bill in Orlando.

WOFL Fox 35: New details on SunRail tax

Orlando Sentinel: Congressional race could pit political vs. ethnic identity (breaking down the D9 Grayson vs. Field race)

Grayson is running in a district with a heavy Hispanic population.

Thursday Morning Political Headlines- Rubio endorses Romney 03/29/12

In Uncategorized on March 29, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Good Morning! Welcome to your morning briefing. Here are today’s major political stories in Orlando.

Marco Rubio endorses Mitt Romney.

WESH 2Marco Rubio Endorses Romney

WKMG Local 6: (Video)- Rubio endorses Romney, says GOP primary should end

WFTV 9Continues their coverage of the Supreme Court hearings regarding the Affordable Health Care Act.

CF News 13Possible running mate Rubio endorses Romney in GOP race.Poll: Nelson widens lead over Mack in Senate race

FOX 35Florida Sen. Rubio Endorses Romney

Orlando SentinelThursday Morning Reads

Also this blog’s post of Marco Rubio’s endorsement of Mitt Romney.

Marco Rubio’s endorsement of Mitt Romney is the big story this morning.

Marco Rubio endorses Mitt Romney

In Uncategorized on March 29, 2012 at 1:33 am

In what could be a sign at a potential Vice-Presidential bid, Florida Senator Marco Rubio has endorsed Mitt Romney tonight on Hannity.

Romney has all but sewn up the nomination in what has been a long slog of a primary. He’s the only hopeful capable of reaching the required 1144 delegates necessary to secure the nomination and with Newt Gingrich checking down his campaign, Romney stands to gain even more support.

Marco Rubio remains the GOPs top choice to join Romney on the ticket. Rubio’s rising star, appeal to the Hispanic population and the possibility of delivering Florida scores him high marks among the pundits. He’s got a biography coming out soon and despite his recent arrival to Washington, is one of the best speakers in the Senate.

Romney continues to rack up Florida endorsements, first Attorney General Pam Bondi endorsed him, followed by GOP favorite and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. Rubio’s endorsement delivers one of the final coveted endorsements the GOP has left to offer. You may recall the Senator coming to Romney’s aid when Gingrich aimed inflammatory immigration rhetoric at Romney during the days leading up to the Florida primary which Romney won in a landslide.

Other potential VP picks besides Rubio include South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, NJ Guv Chris Christie, and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan.

Rubio's endorsement of Romney could be one of the last dominoes to fall before a VP nod.

Adams Takes VA Officials to Task for Orlando VA Medical Center Construction Delays

In Uncategorized on March 27, 2012 at 10:01 pm

Sandy Adams has been “out front” trying to find answers for local veterans regarding the delays of the Orlando VA Hospital construction.

Adams along with a few other local house representatives from Central Florida got the Congressional hearing they requested, and today started asking the hard questions to project supervisors. This hospital is badly needed for the growing veterans population here in the region, and it’s great to see our lawmakers addressing concerns and demanding accountability for these long delays.

Here is a release from the Congresswoman and some video footage of the hearing.

Representative Sandy Adams (FL-24) attended the House Committee on Veterans Affairs’ hearing “From the Ground Up: Assessing Ongoing Delays in VA Major Construction” to get answers on the Orlando VA Medical Center construction delays. Adams, whose district includes the new medical center, has been vigilant about getting to the bottom of the costly delays and recently sent a letter to Chairman Jeff Miller requesting a hearing on the issue. During the hearing, Adams had some tough questions for Dr. Robert Petzel, the Under Secretary for Health at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Representative Adams: So Dr. Petzel, just to recap, we have two separate federal laws regarding VA construction projects that you are not complying with. Next, we have a GAO report that you are using under-qualified people to do analysis on these projects which were recommended; three major changes in the VA, which you say you have started to implement, but to my knowledge from listening today they have not been given to this committee. And then, finally, I have about 300,000 veterans in the Central Florida area that are paying every single day for the VA’s incompetence. So tell us why VA is choosing to ignore federal law and Congress, and who should I hold responsible for the gross mismanagement of the Orlando VA facility?

Dr. Petzel: Responsibility for the Orlando VA hospital rests with us and with the federal government. There is, from my perspective, no single individual that you could, as you wish, blame for what has happened.

Representative Adams: Well, I just want to leave you with one thing: Our veterans deserve the care and they need this facility to come online. They have served our country well, they deserve this care. And I look forward to hearing more about your agency getting this facility back on track and completed as quickly as possible for their benefit, our veterans.


Well said Ma’am

Mica Questions VA on Central Florida Medical Center Delays

In Uncategorized on March 27, 2012 at 9:53 pm

Today a congressional hearing was held to address the delays of the VA Hospital here in Central Florida. A few of our House Representatives participated. This is an issue that’s very personal and it’s great seeing our lawmakers take these organizers to task on a long delayed hospital our Veterans need very much.

Congressman Mica did a great job with his allotted time and I hope that the “recalculating” stops and we can finally make some real progress on this important project.

Here is some video footage of John Mica from the hearing.

GOP House Incumbents, Beware the Kosmas Candidate

In Uncategorized on March 27, 2012 at 3:04 pm

First a definition:

Kosmas Candidate– (slang)- An acceptable Democratic candidate for the House of Representatives running the same year as a President who attracts large support from minority and young voters and, can turn a right leaning district blue. Named after former Congresswoman Suzanne Kosmas who defeated longtime House Rep Tom Feeney in 2008.

This is a real threat to sitting Republican House members, especially here in Central Florida where we’ve an up for grabs I4 corridor. Just like the 2008 wave that sent Kosmas, Grayson, and other Democrats to Washington, there is the risk of this happening all over again and there could be turnover in some of the Florida House races as well.

Now in fairness, Feeney was the subject of controversy during his time in the house and Kosmas had a long history in the state legislature but, in Washington, Kosmas felt the pressure, especially after switching her vote to a “yes” on the affordable care act being debated right now in Washington. She was a recluse for much of the second half of her term and was defeated by current house member Sandy Adams in 2010.

Still, it could happen again. Where is the science? Let me throw some knowledge your way.

There will be a strong turnout from minority and youth voters. They’re here to vote for a President and often aren’t up to speed on the on the issues surrounding the House races. They tend to vote Democrat and if outreach isn’t done correctly they’ll circle in the name with (DEM) next to it every time.

Okay, this is the part where I’m going to field some fake questions.

You mentioned outreach. If grassroots efforts are done correctly can we shift some of these races? Sure but, you’re going to have to concentrate on your particular contest. Unless Mitt Romney makes picks a game changing VP candidate like Marco Rubio, it’s going to be a tough sell at the top of the ballot. Don’t believe me? I’ll bet you Ten Thousand bucks.

Are there any Kosmas candidates running so far? One in Central Florida. Heather Beaven is running in Florida CD 6 against Craig Miller, and a handfull of others. John Mica easily defeated her in 2010 but, this is a different ballgame with the President running for re-election. It would still be difficult for Beaven (or someone else) to take votes from the older community on the coast but it’s happened before and she’s better on the stump than Kosmas.

Beaven could present a stronger challenge this year.

Any more advice? Be lean and mean in your primary. Save as much as you can for the general election. Try to avoid a long drown out family fight. I’m talking to team John Mica and team Sandy Adams.

If you’re a Republican reader of this blog, it’s going to be about mainstream and social media, as well as a strong grassroots game. Democrats, you already know all of this and while sharing a ballot with the President will help some, you still want to run someone that can handle the pressure in D.C.

Beware of candidates like Suzanne Kosmas that turn right leaning districts blue with the President Obama on the ballot.

Health Law Victory could push Pam Bondi into National Spotlight

In Uncategorized on March 26, 2012 at 4:42 pm

The Republican Presidential primary takes a backseat to another political battle this week, as the Supreme court hears arguments and possibly rules on President Obama’s Affordable Health Care act. The court has several options to take after it’s heard the arguments. From upholding the law to throwing it out altogether. It can try to remove parts of the law or punt and push back action for a couple of years.

One Florida lawmaker has been fighting “Obamacare” since the day it was signed two years ago.

Attorney General Pam Bondi made repealing the President’s healthcare plan, the cornerstone of her campaign when she ran back in 2010. She worked with former AG Bill McCullom and several other attorney generals from around the country to have this law heard by the highest court in the land.

Bondi was the underdog in her campaign to become Florida’s AG. Former LT. Governor Jeff Kottkamp held the name ID, the fundraising advantage, and incumbent resources. It was his race to lose.

He also had connections to Republican turned Indie Governor Charlie Crist and a laid back campaigning strategy. This lifted Bondi to victory in the primary.

Dan Gelber awaited Bondi in the general election and despite a heavy attack ad rotation used by the Miami Attorney, Bondi was able to ride the Republican wave of election night victories that saw conservatives sweep the cabinet races and take the Governor’s mansion.

Bondi has since been “outfront” on this lawsuit and calling for an expedited process on several occasions and while two years might not be considered expedited by most, the day has finally arrived.

Florida’s “camera ready” Attorney General already owns a certain amount of positive name ID on the national level. She’s been an analyst for FOX news for several years, she moderated a nationally televised debate and after eventually endorsing Mitt Romney, she hit the campaign trail hard with the former Mass. Governor, introducing him at several rallies throughout the state.

We’ve already got our share of famous lawmakers here. Allen West from the right, DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz from the left and VP favorite Marco Rubio.

If this law is thrown out or even a partial victory like removing the individual mandate is achieved. Could Bondi be considered major player by party leadership?

She’s already a rising star in the Republican party and has some cross over appeal. If Rubio declined the VP nod, could Bondi be offered the bottom of the ticket in hopes of carrying the most important swing state in the country?

We’ll see how things shakeout in Washington this week but, it’s not if, it’s when Bondi will reaches the national stage.

It's only a matter of time before bigger opportunities move in Bondi's direction