In a surprise announcement, Susannah Randolph, Democrat running to replace her old boss Alan Grayson in Congressional District 9, snagged the endorsement of Viviana Janer, the first Latina on the Osceola County Commission.
Of all the endorsements Randolph has announced, none may count as much as this one in the Latino-leaning district that includes parts of Orange and Osceola counties.
However, the move is riskier for Janer, who serves as Osceola County Commission chair. She may see a backlash from the Hispanic community.
Janer was expected to endorse Randolph rival State Sen. Darren Soto (D), who has represented the district as a state representative and now state senator for about 10 years. If Soto wins the August primary, he would be a shoo-in for the seat, making Soto the first Puerto Rican to go to Congress from Florida.
If Janer is seen as thwarting that goal, she could draw the ire of the Latino community and attract a primary opponent when she is up for re-election in 2018. Osceola County District 2 is the most Hispanic district on the Osceola County Commission.
It seems then that the August primary is being set up to test Janer’s pull with Latino voters versus Soto’s. Back in 2014 Janer won her district with 51 percent of the vote, while Soto drew 76 percent support.
Osceola County is heavily Hispanic, and they generally vote Democrat. In fact, the influx of Puerto Ricans has produced one of the highest concentrations of Democrats of any Florida county.
Sources say Janer, who is Puerto Rican, was being heavily courted by Randolph and the Florida Democratic Party for some time. But her relationship with Randolph goes back several years.
When Janer ran into trouble with her employer during her 2014 campaign, she sought legal help from Grayson. At the time, Randolph was on Grayson’s staff.
Political newcomer Janer snatched the district away from incumbent Republican John Quiñones, who was accused of pressuring Janer’s employer to fire her after it was disclosed that Quiñones had received a donation from the company.
Quiñones denied the charge, which was never proven.
˜˜Maria Padilla, Editor