Second GOP Challenger Guns for Linda Stewart's Orlando Seat
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A second Republican opponent will file to run against Rep. Linda Stewart, D-Orlando -- educator Rene "Coach P" Plasencia.
Sunshine State News talked Friday to Plasencia, who lost to Marco Pena for the Republican nomination to challenge Democrat Joe Saunders last year in another House district in Orange County. He confirmed he will file the paperwork next week to run for the seat. Earlier this month, business owner Maurice "Mo" Pearson announced his candidacy for the seat, also as a Republican.
Pointing to his years of experience in teaching high school and coaching, Plasencia said he learned a great deal about the community through his work. “You get a passion for the families you’ve been with for so long,” he said.
Plasencia said he thought long about running again and had been approached by some people in the GOP and the district about entering the contest. “We impressed a lot of people in the party and in the community,” he said.
Noting his experience, Plasencia said he hopes to find solutions on education, allowing adequate funding for schools while ensuring accountability and fiscal responsibility.
Plasencia insists he is focused on other issues besides education. “I’m really passionate about energy reform,” he said. “We need to do it in a way that’s cost-efficient and has the least amount of negative impact on our fragile ecosystem.” Plascencia added that with Florida’s continued growth, this increasingly is becoming an important issue.
Stewart, who beat Bob Brooks for the open seat in November, spoke to Sunshine State News earlier in the month and said she has been more concerned with her legislative duties than with winning a second term in 2014. Promising to fight for bipartisan solutions, she said she is committed to springs restoration, public transportation funding, better education and services for the disabled, while opposing further public pension reform.
Pearson spoke to Sunshine State News earlier in the month and promised to bring his business background to work in Tallahassee to help improve the economy.
The three candidates will battle it out in a swing district. While Republicans make up 40 percent of the district, a 3 percent advantage over the Democrats, the GOP has often under-performed here. Alex Sink took 51 percent of the vote against Rick Scott's 46 percent in the 2010 gubernatorial race.
Since filing her paperwork at the end of 2012 to run again in 2014, Stewart has raised around $21,330 and spent less than $1,260.
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