Three Republicans vying for a photo in the new Apopka-based HD 39
The redistricting ended the long-running split of Orange County’s second-largest city by creating the new House District 39, and three Republicans are vying Tuesday to be its representative.
Apopka City Commissioner Doug BanksonChairman of the Orange County Republican Party Charles Hart and Republican activist Randy Ross turned the campaign into a rumble, with Bankson and Hart offering their own definitions of what it means to be a “true conservative”, and Ross preferring to focus on his crusade to improve care for the elderly.
As recut, HD 39 is much more than Apopka. It includes the Old Town half of Winter Garden, the agricultural and greenhouse areas of Zellwood, the lush conservation areas of Wekiva Springs, and the western ends of Lake Mary and Longwood in Seminole County. The mix ranges from farms to country club communities to suburbs and low-income neighborhoods.
The last two general elections suggest that the electoral base is fairly evenly split between Democrats and Republicans.
Winner Tuesday gets November general election showdown with Democratic nominee Tiffany Hughes.
Bankson, who has lived in Apopka for 30 years, is the founder and senior pastor of Victory Church Global Outreach Center. He is also a member of the board of directors and former president of the Apopka region. Chamber of Commerce. He has served on the Apopka City Council for six years and said he and the community know and trust each other well.
“Obviously people are concerned about the economy. When it comes to choosing between the gas tank and the table, things don’t go well. I have a record, having served for six years, standing firm, getting our budget under control and making sure our taxes don’t rise and run away,” Bankson said. “It resonates with people.”
“I truly believe I’m the most conservative Republican on the ballot. These are core values for me. I don’t have to read a script to know what I believe. These are very strong objectives, like our first and second amendments. I absolutely will not comply with these things. But I believe in having the conversation with people who disagree,” Bankson added.
“Whether it’s that or he stays standing for life. I believe life begins at conception. I’m going to be who I am, no matter who I’m with. We can have these conversations. We can do these things with great compassion for people. These are core values for me. I think people can feel it.
Hart is an attorney with his own general practice in Seminole. He oversaw numerous campaigns during his tenure as Orange County GOP Chairman. He moved to Apopka a few years ago after a divorce. He said he arrived heartbroken and then overwhelmed by the welcome the community had given him.
“They showed me love. And I will never forget that love. And it makes me want to go fight for them, and fight for their interests. And not just for the people of Apopka . The people of Longwood . And Winter Garden,” Hart said. “I consider them my people and I will do anything for them.”
“Politically, look, I’m sick of people getting elected and forgetting about regular people, regular people, who have normal jobs. He goes back home. He wants to put his feet up. He does not want to be overwhelmed by government interference and crushed under the weight of that of Joe Biden excessive, the federal government. He wants to earn honest money and have honest fun with his family. He’s the guy I want to represent,” Hart continued. “That’s why I run.”
Hart said his record as a conservative is clear, and he reflects it on issues ranging from abortion to border protection. He said he was eager to support the governor. Ron DeSantis.
“He takes a lot of hits for us. He carries the ball. People want to see more blockages for him in Tallahassee. People want to see someone fight alongside him and fight for him, and take on some of the burden he carries so much for us,” Hart said.
Ross is a political consultant, former Orange County Chairman of that of Donald Trump 2016 presidential campaign, a longtime Hart rival in the Orange County Republican Party and someone who spent much of his later years caring for his elderly and ailing mother.
He said he got into the race because someone in the Legislative Assembly needed to make elder care reforms a top priority, from simplifying health care delivery to reforming of the guardianship program.
“A lot of people have said that the issue of elder care is a single-issue vote. But I can tell you that at every door I knock on, from Longwood to downtown Winter Garden, the issue of elder care resonates. And I think that’s because whether you’re a senior or caring for a senior, you know what it’s like,” Ross said.
On other issues, with few exceptions, Ross said there was little difference between him and his rivals.
“My opponents and I are all going to agree on Republican issues. I lean a little more than them on the question of abortion. I publicly state that I support abortion in the areas of rape, incest and the life of the mother,” Ross said. “But apart from that, we will all agree on the need to fight against illegal immigration. Or how to navigate parts of the conservative process.
“Most importantly, I’m the only person in this race, and I think in many races I have no interest beyond being a state representative,” he added. “And very few of them know why they want to go to Tallahassee. My goal is not to one day be president or governor or congressman. My goal is really to try to help, to do what I can do, with my own experience, at the state level.