To the average person on the street, an State Attorney’s race may not sound very exciting at first. But in Orange and Osceola counties, they need just a reminder of what’s been in the orbit of one of the Orlando area’s most important races in recent years.
Casey Anthony: After the shocking acquittal if Anthonym in one of the most controversial trials since OJ, the focus turned away from the Orlando area, but the main players in the trial remained politically relevant. Anthony prosecutor, Jeff Ashton, decided to challenge longtime incumbent Lawson Lamar, into what turned into a finger pointing contest over how the case was handled and how the office was being ran in general. Ashton, who’s name ID was sky high after book deals, TV movies, and being on television everyday, was able to pull off the victory.
But that wasn’t all. George Anthony, Casey’s father, showed up to Ashton’s victory party and embraced the winner (story HERE) capping what ended up being the biggest political drama of that year.
Dating Websites: During his first term Ashton’s name was caught up in a data leak from the website, Ashley Madison (story HERE). While he broke no laws, the controversy would remain during his time in office.
A shocking 2016 result: Aramis Ayala would still be the underdog in her 2016 long shot bid against Ashton, but an influx of outside cash, and a hard fought campaign would get her into office (story HERE). Ashton would be elected judge two years later.
Controversy as Ayala takes office and once again as she announces her exit: You might be caught up by this point. Ayala announced she would not be seeking the death penalty for cases in her office days after accused cop killer Markeith Lloyd was captured by police (story HERE). The community reacted strongly both for and against her decision with a series of protests. Last week, she announce she will not be seeking reelection (story HERE).
Which brings us to this race, which presents a variety of story lines.
The candidates who have announced:
You have Ryan Williams, who ran in that 2012 race and while he couldn’t compete with the two bigger competitors back then, was still well thought of.
Kevin Morenski, who announced his campaign shortly after Ayala made her controversial decision.
Deborah Barra, who worked for Ayala and has her endorsement, announced her candidacy today. She presented the “shoot report” earlier this year from the Pulse night club tragedy.
And likely Belvin Perry, the judge from the Casey Anthony trial,
I haven’t lost you yet, have I?
The judge who presided over the Anthony trial will likely be running for the office that started this whole cycle to begin with. With years of service and high name ID both from his time serving and a long stint on television as an analyst, he will be considered the favorite.
We’ll have to have a real conversation about the death penalty: The voters and the media won’t let the issue go this time around. Every candidate must have a clear position on what might be the most important part of their platform in the eyes of the public.
And Aramis Ayala is still in office: And will now be able to run the office with no reelection to consider with almost half of her term left.
And that is why the 2020 Orange Osceola County State Attorney’s race will once again be one to watch.
If that doesn’t convince you, then I’m not sure what will.