Republican Osceola County Commissioner John Quinones said Tuesday he'll jump into the race for the new congressional district that centers around Kissimmee-St. Cloud, but he was welcomed to the contest with the news that Democrat Alan Grayson has raised more than $2 million.
Grayson, who was a lightning rod for controversy during his one term in Congress that ended in 2010, nevertheless remains a darling of the left -- and is drawing on a national profile and a lack of fear of controversy to drum up support. He announced Tuesday he raised $550,000 in the three months that ended March 31 in his bid to return to Washington.
Grayson said he got contributions from nearly 12,000 contributors.
He also raised more than a half million dollars in the final quarter of 2011, and has pulled in more than $2 million for the cycle.
"There's a reason I have been labeled a 'virtual slam dunk,' by media around the country," Grayson said.
He might have been able to raise even more -- but Grayson boasted that he's also been raising money for other Democratic congressional candidates.
Meanwhile, Quinones, like a large number of voters in the district, is of Puerto Rican descent, and is well-known in the biggest part of the district, Osceola County, where he is the current county commission chairman. The county just south of Orlando is entirely within the new 9th District, which also juts into Orange County, where Grayson lives, and includes the northeast corner of Polk County.
The district voting population is more than a third Hispanic -- 39 percent -- but many of those Puerto Rican Hispanics vote Democratic. About 43 percent of the voters in the district are white, while about 12 percent are black. Grayson is white.
Quinones, 46, told the Orlando Sentinel he plans to remain chairman of the county commission during the campaign. Before Quinones was on the county commission, he was in the state House.
In addition to Grayson and Quinones, the race also already includes Republican Osceola County School Board member Julius Menendez and independent Miguel Nieves. Republican Mark Oxner also is campaigning for the seat, though he hasn't filed to run.