Last week’s bizarre revelation that former Orlando police chief and onetime congressional candidate Val Demings was dropping out of the race for Orange County mayor because it “wasn’t the right time” came as a crushing blow to local Democrats. On the same day, Latino organizations fighting the county for fair representation in the face of faulty districting were dealt a similar hand when the courts sided with the county and dropped their case. There’s something terrible in the water.
So, as it stands, Democrats now have until late June to draft someone, anyone, with a stash of cash and a hint of name recognition in order to challenge incumbent Mayor Teresa Jacobs. Jacobs inexplicably, ranks high in polling, despite the fact that she has overseen one of the most tumultuous administrations this county has ever seen. She’s flip-flopped on the performing arts center – a project she once criticized after an audit showed that taxpayers were footing the bill for fancy cars and corruption. She was in the middle of the textgate scandal of 2012, seemingly not knowing how to do her own job. She wasn’t even on board for the domestic partnership registry until the media pressured her into a compromise. She’s played nonpartisan and innocent while feeding at the trough of a socially conservative peanut gallery.
But none of this will matter come August. Jacobs is already doing victory laps in the wake of Demings’ departure. She’s sitting on a war chest of more than $600,000 likely to go back into party coffers. She won the war. And we lost without a choice.