For Congress, environmental champion Rep. Darren Soto and Gen Z phenom Maxwell Alejandro Frost are obvious choices.
U.S. Rep. Darren Soto isn’t making a lot of noise, avoiding thrilling stunts and hyperpartisan rhetoric. But he made a big difference, not just for his constituents in House District 9 (anchored in Orange and Osceola counties), but also for his state and his nation. He easily won re-election.
Start with an awesome fact. During his first two terms in Congress, Soto topped the biennial ranking compiled by the National Center for Effective Lawmaking, a joint project of the University of Virginia and Vanderbilt University. The list focuses on the ability of lawmakers to advance their own legislation, recognizing that most legislation requires multiple terms to cross the finish line and does not include the current term. But for the two-year term that ended in 2020, Soto claimed third place in the Florida delegation, well ahead of more incumbent (and vocal) lawmakers. He is likely to rise when his new ranking comes out, based on his success in advancing bills to protect the Kissimmee River and restore reefs in the nation’s coastal waters.
Beyond that, however, is how Soto has become a reliable and effective negotiator of public policy, especially on issues relating to science, technology and environmental protection. He was instrumental in protecting Florida’s fragile and economically critical coastline from attempts to expand oil drilling, and a vocal advocate for Puerto Rico’s demand for fairer treatment for its citizens, Americans from birth. He is a fearless advocate for women’s health, affordable housing and sensible immigration reform. And he has provided millions of dollars in federal support for key Central Florida priorities.
Soto is challenged by Scotty Moore, a consultant and former missionary whose affable enthusiasm doesn’t improve on his unreserved embrace of the worst of the modern Republican platform. As an election reality denier, an enemy of reproductive rights, and a vocal proponent of the idea that protecting guns is more important than saving American lives, Moore does not align with the needs and beliefs of residents. of District 9. In Congress, he would help put a friendly face on the GOP’s most controversial paranoid rhetoric.
Soto is clearly the best choice here – as he always has been. Voters need to keep him working.
Central Florida — in fact, much of the nation — has heard a lot about the phenom that is Maxwell Alejandro Frost. They heard about his political awakening as he watched news reports of the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, which killed 26 students and teachers. About the strange political skills he learned, wielding an old-fashioned megaphone to plead for a safer and more prosperous future for himself and his friends. About her unique, American-only biography: Born in Orlando to a mother struggling with addiction, adopted by a teacher who fled Cuba for Florida and her musician husband. On his gig-saving credibility, covering hundreds of hours behind the wheel of his Kia Soul, anonymous to Uber riders even as his congressional campaign gained momentum and national media and progressive superstars like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders were taking notice.
And we’ve all seen him rise to the front of a 10-person group that included several political veterans from central Florida, easily claiming the Democratic nomination in Orlando’s anchored District 10, where he should easily claim victory.
Above all, we have heard about his youth: at 25, he was born in the first month of the era known as Gen. Z, and if elected, he will be the youngest member of Congress.
That leaves voters in District 10 with a challenge: to look through the glare and wonder if Frost can effectively and faithfully represent them in Washington DC.
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We think the answer is “Yes”. Although he has yet to graduate from Valencia State College, Frost is well educated on the challenges facing the nation and is well grounded in the art of political negotiation, giving him the skills to effectively represent Central Florida even if the House becomes Republican. . He wears the mantle of rising star with levity and humility, patiently answering countless questions about himself but always bringing the conversation back to the challenges his generation will inherit: the threat of climate change. The fight for affordable housing. The need to reassess an economic structure that has concentrated more than half of the nation’s wealth in an extremely small number of hands, leaving the once comfortable middle class with an uphill battle to achieve something like the American Dream.
The sheer demographics of District 10 — where less than 25% of registered voters are registered Republicans — make Frost’s rise likely.
But he has attracted a formidable opponent, one who represents the best example of the other end of the nation’s political spectrum. Retired Army Colonel Calvin Wimbish is a Green Beret whose military record shines with the trust and respect he has earned as a veteran and intelligence expert. While we regret his decision to embrace some of the GOP’s more outlandish views — including a refusal to acknowledge that Joe Biden is the rightful President of the United States — he impresses us as someone who would be a capable and dedicated public servant. in a district more aligned with his thoughtful, and more traditionally conservative, views of the real issues facing this nation.
Add another thing that sets him apart from many GOP candidates across Florida: Wimbish wasn’t afraid to meet with the Orlando Sentinel editorial board.
Frost was lucky to attract such a formidable opponent. But he offers the perspective Congress most needs to hear and inspires hope that as more young leaders like him step forward, this nation can heal from its deep divisions and overcome the challenges. who are waiting for him. He is more than ready to serve District 10.
We will post our mentions in local races over the next few weeks. However, we urge voters not to rely solely on our opinions to decide how to vote. Voters should check the candidates’ campaign websites and social media accounts (if they don’t have any, that should be a red flag). Ask your friends and neighbors what they think. Google candidates and visit ocselections.com to see who is donating money to their campaigns. Additionally, we recorded our interviews and posted them in their entirety on OrlandoSentinel.com/opinion.
Election endorsements are the opinion of the Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board, which consists of Opinion Editor Krys Fluker, Insight Editor Jay Reddick, and Managing Editor Julie Anderson. Sentinel columnist Scott Maxwell participates in interviews and deliberations. Send emails to [email protected].