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GOP Names Mike Horner's Replacement; Dems Say Ballot Confusion Will Cost Him Race

Florida Republicans have named a candidate to replace Representative Mike Horner, the state lawmaker whose name was linked to a prostitution ring in Orlando and has since stepped down. But, some say introducing a candidate this late into the race will confuse voters and could cause the new GOP nominee to lose the race.

In a majority vote over the weekend, Michael La Rosa was chosen as the House District 42 Republican nominee. He’s a small business owner and is also the son of a Cuban immigrant. Frank Terraferma is the Director of House Campaigns for the Republican Party of Florida. He says he believes a big reason La Rosa was chosen to represent Osceola and Polk counties was because of his background in business:

“He’s a realtor and a developer, but has really built up a large business that employs many people not only in Orlando, but also in other parts of Florida," said Terraferma. "So, I think that's certainly very appealing to the folks in charge of choosing the nominee. Also, his involvement with the Republican Party locally, I think, is something that made him attractive as well.”

But, Florida Democratic Party Spokeswoman Brannon Jordan says because La Rosa's name won’t appear on the November ballot, La Rosa should be worried:

“We are confident that it will be difficult for any Republican in that race, considering voters will ultimately have to cast a vote for Mike Horner this fall,” said Jordan.

On the November ballot, voters will not see Mike La Rosa’s name. Instead, Representative Mike Horner’s name will be on the already-printed ballot. But, a vote for Representative Horner will equal a vote for Mike La Rosa, which the state's Democratic Party spokeswoman Jordan says could work in their favor because voters, who don’t understand the change, will not want to vote for a man whose name is linked to prostitution scandal.

Meanwhile, Frank Terraferma with Republican Party of Florida says the Florida Department of State is putting out notices at the polling station to notify voters about the change.

“Not only does it say, a vote for Mike Horner is a vote for Mike La Rosa, some people thought it might favor the candidate whose name is being noticed. So, it will also say a vote for Eileen Game is a vote for Eileen Game.”

La Rosa was named just in time for a Tuesday deadline, and he's slated to go up against Democrat challenger Eileen Game, another small business owner, who recently gained the support of the Florida Democrats after the scandal involving Horner.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on twitter @SaschaCordner.

Sascha Cordner has more than ten years of public radio experience. It includes working at NPR member station WUFT-FM in Gainesville for several years. She's worked in both radio and TV, serving in various capacities as a reporter, producer and anchor. She's also a graduate of the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in telecommunications. She is the recipient of 15 awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), and Edward R. Murrow. Her award-winning stories include her coverage on the infamous “Dozier School for Boys” and a feature titled "Male Breast Cancer: Lost in the Sea of Pink." Currently, Sascha serves as the host and producer of local and state news content for the afternoon news program "All Things Considered" at WFSU. Sascha primarily covers criminal justice and social services issues. When she's not reporting, Sascha likes catching up on her favorite TV shows, singing and reading. Follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter:@SaschaCordner.