Florida Democrats launch campaign to recruit new candidates

The Florida Democratic Party hopes a new billboard campaign across the state will help push people to run for office. One area of focus is Seminole County. 

"We hold several races, can't win them if we don't have candidates in them, can't have candidates unless we recruit candidates," said Lynn Moira Dictor, Chair of the Seminole County Democratic Party. 

Billboards with the slogan, "You're already a leader. Run for Office," are up in Polk County, Madison County, Miami-Dade County, and Seminole County. FOX 35 News located one digital advertisement off of State Road 434. 

Lynn Moira Dictor is the Chair of the Seminole County Democratic Party. She says the goal is to recruit Democratic candidates for open and uncontested races. 

The list of candidates on the county's website shows that many are running as Republicans, and some face no challenger. 

"Winter Springs, Altamonte, Longwood, Lake Mary — all have openings in 2024. We're not leaving anything on the table," Dictor says.

Political Science Professor Aubrey Jewett says there's a spotlight on Seminole County because voting behavior has changed. 

Just look at the 2020 Presidential Election. 

"Seminole County voting for a Democrat for president for the first time in about 50 years or more," said Jewett. 

He says voter registration efforts by Democrats closed the wide gap between parties. 

The latest data from Seminole County shows the slim margin between the two major parties. Of the 343,989 registered voters,118,641 are registered as Republicans, and 111,909 are registered as Democrats. Just under 7,000 registered voters separates the two. 

Jewett said that in addition to voter registration efforts, more people are moving to Seminole County and are shifting voting trends. 

"Not just people with families. You have young, working singles. The county has also gotten more and more diverse in terms of race and ethnicity," said Jewett. 

Republican leaders in Seminole County say they're not concerned about the voter numbers or the billboards. 

"We're not concerned that we're going to all of a sudden become a blue County. We're not going to let that happen," said Bruce Cherry, Seminole County Republican Party Chair. 

Bruce Cherry, who leads the Seminole County Republican Party, says the party plans to continue with traditional outreach efforts. 

"We use our funds more wisely and it's more of a personal approach with our constituents," said Cherry. 

Jewett said that in the past, Democrats didn't run in the county because they didn't think they had a chance. He expects to see big pushes like this from the Democratic Party, which wants to capitalize on what it sees as even ground. 

"So now, it's taking an all-out recruiting effort to say, ‘Hey, if you run, we actually have a chance to win some of these seats,’" said Jewett. 

Time is of the essence because qualifying for some races is as early as next month. Dictor says there is pressure but believes there's enough time and local support for interested candidates. 

Another sign is set to go up in the county along Interstate 4. The signs are expected to be up for the next two weeks.