The first official Republican debate between the three qualified candidates in Florida’s 9th congressional district, finally took place at the Solavita adult community in Osceola County, Florida, and ended with a straw poll that saw Navy veteran Jorge Bonilla walk away with a “crushing” 55% of the votes cast over his rivals, Carol Platt and Peter Vivaldi.“Crushing” was the term used by one of the attendees of the event to describe Bonilla’s performance.
The total count of attendees to the Republican Club of Solavita’s debate was 123, of which 85 were actual members who participated in the straw poll. The club boasts of having well over 100 members, but some of these retirees (not to be confused with “Snow Birds”) who also have second homes outside of the state of Florida, were not in attendance.
Who won the debate? It was clear who the voters of the Republican Club of Solavita chose as the winner.
The final count:
Jorge Bonilla-47 votes
Peter Vivaldi-26 votes
Carol Platt-12 votes
As for the debate, not much was said outside of the usual Republican talking points, and railing against President Obama and his policies, and Congressman Alan Grayson, who these three are looking to challenge in the November general election.
The debate layout was simple. The candidates were given 5 minutes to introduce themselves, followed by the audience asking questions of the candidates , who had 3 minutes to answer each question. The Q & A was then followed by a 3 minute closing from each of the candidates.
To sum it all up, the debate dragged on a bit, with only 6 questions being asked. The questions asked were pretty vague, opening up the candidates to use up all 3 minutes if they chose to do so. And let me just tell you, they took their sweet time in tip-toeing around their answers.
To Bonilla’s credit, he answered every single question directly and in and around a minute each. Vivaldi and Platt each took up all, or just about all of the 3 minutes alotted to them.
Jorge Bonilla, who is running for elected office for the first time, is considered by many to be the frontrunner in the Republican primary race, and having the best chance to defeat Alan Grayson this November. Bonilla has been placed on former Congressman Allen West’s coveted “One’s to Watch” list, and has been endorsed by Congressman Pete Sessions (R-TX) and state Representative Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala)Carol Platt, the soft-spoken Realtor from Osceola County, like Bonilla, is a virtual newbie at running for office, but not to the political game. Platt’s family history in the district and numerous contribution to elected officials over the years have garnered her widespread support within traditional Republican circles.
Platt announced the endorsement of state Representative Mike DeRosa at the debate, and mention in her closing remarks, the support she has received from Jeb Bush, Charlie Bronson, and former Congressman Dave Wheldon.
Peter Vivaldi is a Pastor who seems to have growing support from within the Hispanic evangelical community, has run for office several times before, but has come up empty handed each time.
Vivaldi has been endorsed by the former liberal Democrat Governor of Puerto Rico, but is considered by a growing many to be unelectable, considering the recent discovery that he falsified an application he submitted for consideration of appointment to a vacant Orange County Commission seat.
Vivaldi, whose falsification of the document stems back to his 1989 Felony arrest for passing bad check(s), was up for this appointment in 2011, but did not vet with Florida Governor Rick Scott’s administration.The posting of the evening’s Q & A will follow shortly…