First term State Representative Carlos Smith hosted over one hundred supporters at The Abbey last Friday to kick-off his re-election campaign.
By Sean David Hartman
He spent his first term fighting to legalize cannabis, regulating greyhounds, and attacking pro-Second Amendment measures. Now, Orlando Democratic State Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith, the outspoken “gay, feminist, Latinx progressive liberal Democrat”, is ready to go back to Tallahassee for Round 2.
And it seems Orlando is behind him.
Representative Smith held a campaign kickoff for his reelection campaign at the Abbey, a restaurant in Downtown Orlando known for hosting campaign events for Democrats. Before Representative Smith, the Abbey hosted the kickoff for Democrat Anna Eskamani, who is running for the seat neighboring Representative Smith. Eskamani, a former Planned Parenthood employee, spoke at the Smith campaign event in support of who she hopes will be her future colleague.
“Carlos is one of the reasons why I’m running for office,” said Eskamani. “He’s a progressive leader who gets [expletive] done.”
Several Democrats and Republicans appeared at that event showing support for Representative Smith, proving he has bipartisan support going into the 2018 Election.
It does not seem that any viable Republican candidate can successfully beat Representative Smith, nor does it seem the Party wants to invest in such a race. OCREC Chairman Lew Oliver has stated that he has the duty to triage Republican candidates, and to “give morphine” to those candidates he feels will not win a race, as he openly admitted to doing to Republican Thuy Lowe, who was running for Congress against Former Orlando Democratic Police Chief Val Demings.
Chief Demings won that race, in part, due to lack of support from Chairman Oliver and OCREC. Representative Smith had only one opponent in his 2016 Election bid, an Independent game programmer.
“I have a very strong feeling that 2018 is going to be the year that we have a blue tidal wave,” said Representative Smith.
Representative Smith touted his record of progressive action in a Republican-dominated Government, ranging from his fight to legalize cannabis, his crusade against recent bills expanding gun ownership rights, and his implementation of regulations against greyhound racing, with the ultimate goal, according to Representative Smith, to ban greyhound racing in the State of Florida.
“I’ve been unapologetically been fighting for fairness and equality for everybody,” said Representative Smith. “The free advise I heard over and over again was, as a Democrat in the minority I have two choices: I can either be the Quiet Negotiator Who Gets Things Done, or I could be someone who is the Voice of Opposition, who gets nothing done.”
“I’m here to tell you they were wrong,” said Representative Smith. “We were able to stay true to our progressive values.”
Though Representative Smith was unable to get some of his progressive priorities implemented, including the passing of non-discrimination laws for the LGBTQ+ community in Florida, and the legalization of cannabis, he signaled his plan to continue the fight in the 2018 Session.
Shortly after his campaign speech, Representative Smith filed legislation similar to his 2016 bill, proposing to decriminalize cannabis in the State of Florida.
Sean Hartman is a Junior at the University of Central Florida, studying Political Science. He previously served as the Vice President of the Southwest Florida Young Republicans and as Assistant Regional Coordinator to the Ted Cruz For President campaign. He described himself as a “Professional Political Nuisance” and labels his political views as “classical liberalism”.