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Florida’s 24th Congressional District Primary Election Heats Up

Florida’s 24th Congressional District primary election race is heating up, and since this is my district I’m following the developments with great interest. Yesterday was the last day to register to vote to be eligible to participate in the August 24th primary. But, if you are not yet registered, I strongly encourage you to do so soon to be ready for the November election, which will be historic.

The House incumbent, Rep. Suzanne Kosmas (D), has voted almost in lock step with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Harry Reid. Sarah Palin named her as a key liberal to beat in November 2010.

Currently, the Republican candidates are as follows:

State Rep. Sandra “Sandy” Adams (http://www.sandyadams.com) has served in the Florida House of Representatives since 2002. Prior to 2002, she had a career in law enforcement and served 17 years with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. She also previously served in the U.S. Air Force. Her record in the Florida legislature has been consistently conservative.

Karen Diebel (http://www.karendiebel.com) is Vice Mayor and City Commissioner of Winter Park and a Verizon executive. Ms. Diebel was the leader (32-14-6) in a recent straw poll held May 11, though more recent polls show Craig Miller taking the lead. Mike Huckabee and Tom Tancredo have also endorsed her, for what it’s worth. And, she is on a top-ten list of favorites for Social Conservatives.

Tom Garcia (http://www.garcia4congress.com/), a Navy Commander and Top Gun fighter pilot, showed up as the leader in a June straw poll conducted by the Republican Liberty Caucus of East Central Florida. He could gain momentum if the Tea Party rallies behind him. Mr. Garcia was also a commercial airline pilot for 18 years. His conservative views may be well-aligned with constituents of the Space Coast district he would represent.

Deon Long (http://www.deonlong.com/) is currently a practicing attorney in Winter Park. As his website states, he was also appointed by Jeb Bush to serve on the board of the St. Johns River Water Management District from 1999-2007. Mr. Long has a strong independent streak — think Rand Paul — and he supports a pro-growth free market agenda.

Businessman Craig S. Miller (http://www.craigmillerforcongress.com), a former CEO of Darden Restaurants and Ruth Chris Steakhouse and a war veteran who served in Vietnam in the Air Force, joined the race late but appears to be the Washington establishment’s favorite. Mr. Miller’s conservative credentials are largely based on the fact that he is a businessman and, therefore, must be pro-business and anti-tax. Mr. Miller appears to have the lead in recent polls. He also has the endorsement of the regional paper, The Orlando Sentinel — though this fact probably won’t sit well with die-hard Republicans who know the paper has a liberal slant. (I’ve seen bloggers refer to the paper as the “Slantinel.”) In this day and age when voters know politicians say one thing and do another, the Sentinel’s endorsement could backfire.

I think the polls are still a bit premature. (The Orlando Sentinel, has not published its voter guide online or in print yet, if that’s any indication.) Congressional primary elections typically have low voter turnout (about 12% of Democrats and 16% of Republicans turned out in the 2008 primary). It will be interesting to see if there will be more interest this year.

This is anyone’s race at this point.

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