RPOF Confident of Quick Off-Ballot Replacement for Mike Horner

By: Jim Turner | Posted: September 25, 2012 1:00 PM

Frank Attkisson, Ken Smith and Jimmy Nelson

Osceola County Commissioner Frank Attkisson, Ken Smith and Polk County Republican Party Chairman Jimmy Nelson

Republican Party of Florida Chairman Lenny Curry is confident that a candidate will be found in the next few days to replace state Rep. Mike Horner, who quickly withdrew from the race Monday after his name was linked to an east Orange County prostitution client list.

“There is a process in place where the replacement will be picked and we’ll be actively working on that in the next few days,” Curry said.

“In the days ahead, the Republican Party of Florida will be putting out the rules and regulations on how that is done.”

Among names that the Orlando Sentinel has reported as possible replacements include former state representative and current Osceola County Commissioner Frank Attkisson, R-Kissimmee; former county commissioner and former mayor of Kissimmee, Ken Smith; and Polk County Republican Party Chairman Jimmy Nelson.

Horner's decision has opened the chances for Democrat Eileen Game, a business executive from Frostproof, who has raised just $6,090 to the $223,412 Horner had raised.

“Obviously, the dynamics have changed,” Christian Ulvert, a political consultant helping the Florida Democratic Party, told the Orlando Sentinel on Monday. “We’re looking at it very closely.”

The district, which includes portions of Osceola and Polk counties, has a Democrat majority among registered voters, but has tended to vote to the right, favoring Gov. Rick Scott by 10 percentage points in 2010 and giving a slight edge to John McCain for president in 2008.

The replacement for the Kissimmee Republican will have to understand that ballots have already been set so their name will not appear.

In 2006, Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, was drafted a month before the general election to replace U.S. Rep. Mark Foley, R-West Palm Beach, when Foley dropped out of the District 16 contest.

Foley, who had been a popular representative in the Republican-leaning district, resigned after torrid online communications with teenage congressional pages were exposed.

With Foley’s name appearing on national news, Negron, who had to constantly remind voters that a vote for Mark Foley was a vote for Joe Negron, mustered 48 percent of the vote.

Reach Jim Turner at jturner@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 215-9889.

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