- Shayan Elahi vs. Joe Saunders
House District 49 (DEM): Shayan Elahi vs. Joe Saunders
It's never a party until something gets broken (especially your heart!) but the stewing acrimony between longtime gay-rights organizer Joe Saunders and civil rights attorney Shayan Elahi over this newly drawn House seat out by the University of Central Florida has tossed the liberal vase (er, base) out the window and onto the pool deck. Elahi – with failed Orlando mayoral hopeful Mike Cantone and a gaggle of scruffy occupiers at his back – has been doing his best to cast Saunders as a one-issue Democrat (because he's gay, see, and would be the state's first gay legislator if elected). Saunders, meanwhile, has been quietly laughing all the way to the bank, out-fundraising Elahi in both finance and notice. Saunders has the endorsement of no less than Mayor Buddy Dyer, and when he speaks, he makes you cry. Let's see if that occupy momentum (cough!) can push the slightly more aggro Elahi over the edge.
Orange County Commission District 3: Lui Damiani vs. Eric Lasso
If you were already scratching your head to figure out who Lui Damiani is – he was just appointed to the county commission by the governor in 2010 after Commissioner Mildred Fernandez flipped her financial wig – then surely you're digging in your ears to place the name Eric Lasso. Well, you needn't worry, really, as Lasso is just a pawn of state legislative doughboy, Rep. Chris Dorworth (more dirt on him later!). Dorworth's Floridians for Fiscal Responsibility PAC is backing Lasso in the race with mucho dinero, something that has tickled the ire of schoolmarm Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, mostly because Dorworth already tried (and failed) to get Jacobs removed from the Expressway Authority because she was wary of its fraudulent ways. Also, Dorworth likes his development back scratched, and we can only assume that Lasso has awesome fingernails.
House District 29 (REP): Chris Dorworth vs. John Moffitt
Speaking of said blowhard doughboy Dorworth – who is only made pudgier by the Kevlar that the term "speaker designate" currently drapes him in – got an unexpected Republican challenger in the spring. What? Who challenges the King of Nothing? Well, two people do, but the only interesting one is John Moffitt, and Moffitt's only interesting because he was treasurer of the Seminole County Republicans. In a not-really bizarre twist, Moffitt has been citing Dorworth's questionable financial practices – you know, bad divorces, foreclosures, state party credit card scandals – in a move that is sure to win him no friends within the party. In fact, it hasn't. As of last month, Moffitt had raised a scant $3,356 to go up against Dorworth's $45,027 bag of expensive tricks.
Orange Commission District 5: Gina Duncan vs. Ted Edwards
Speaking of questionable clouds of finance, Commissioner Ted Edwards has his fingers in all sorts of development pies, a greedy attorney's wanderlust that has resulted in him abstaining from votes 38 times over an 18-month period. He's basically straddling I-Drive while making out with Harris Rosen, so it makes sense that he's worth nearly $8 million. Enter newcomer Gina Duncan, whose grass-roots, largely liberal campaign may not have much quantitative steam – she is clearly out-funded by Edwards – but turns the fantastic trick of being the first such campaign in Orange County by a transgender person. Duncan is no social-issue wallpaper, though; her chops were earned in the banking business and as head of the local gay chamber of commerce. She was also pivotal in moving the county forward with its domestic-partnership registry, something that Edwards quizzically muddied up in the last moments before the ordinance's passage. It should be noted that Duncan, a former high-school football star, could kick Edwards' ass if she wanted to. Just sayin'.
Florida Senate District 12 (DEM): Victoria Siplin vs. Geraldine Thompson
The mere mention of the name "Siplin" in most social strata elicits at best a giggle and at worst a slur. State Sen. Gary Siplin, D-Orlando, has exhausted his term limits, duly hopping into socially conservative territory, alleged fraud and, well, "droopy drawers" along the way. That doesn't say much for his wife, Victoria, who's already mucked things up by saying she worked for a Republican (even anti-Fair Districts) entity which apparently didn't pay her, and not saying much else to anyone. Thompson, on the other hand, has a solid Democratic record as a state House representative for six years. She doesn't deserve this Siplin circus. Nobody does.
Congressional District 9 (REP): Todd Long vs. John Quinones vs. Julius Melendez
Uh-oh, it's not just the Democrats that are suffering from splintering schizophrenia. District 9, which is one of the newbies drawn to appease Hispanic constituents, has drawn a crowded and confused field. Two Hispanics, Quinones and Melendez, are likely to split the Hispanic vote according to insiders, just like they've already split most Republicans: The Sentinel endorsed Melendez, while the big Republican money is behind Quinones. Conversely, Tea Party flat-top crazyperson Todd Long is waving the Chik-fil-A flag (and copies of his "book") in an effort to pluck away the rednecks that thrive in every Floridian dark corner. If Long pulls it off, he'll face righteous Democratic blowhard Alan Grayson in November, and we all know how that went last time. Hey, Todd, why the long face?