Four of the messiest campaign brawls of the 2016 Florida primary

Four of the messiest campaign brawls of the 2016 Florida primary

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Orange County Commission District 5


Territory: Orlando, Winter Park, Bithlo, Christmas and UCF
Current seat held by: Ted Edwards

The contenders for Orange County Commissioner Ted Edwards' seat have been born mostly from the environmental controversies in his district, which puts two very different regions of the county together. On one hand, Edwards had a public spat with Tim McKinney, executive vice president of United Global Outreach, over what to build on a recently foreclosed mobile home park in Bithlo. That spat evolved into a much nastier feud regarding the state of Bithlo's infrastructure, affordable housing and water, and eventually prompted McKinney to enter the race.

Edwards' next challenger, Emily Bonilla, rose from conflicts over the rural character of east Orange County that Edwards said he was trying to preserve in Bithlo. The commissioner spearheaded votes on two developments east of the Econlockhatchee River that would put about 4,000 homes in an ecologically sensitive area. (The Lake Pickett developments would cross the river boundary that separates the urban Orange County from the rural.) Bonilla, founder of the environmental group East of the Econ, protested Edwards' decision along with hundreds of east Orange County residents.

Edwards' final challenger is Greg Eisenberg, a University of Central Florida graduate and a marketing manager, who has called out Edwards for many of the same reasons as McKinney and Bonilla. Things took a turn in this race after both Bonilla and Eisenberg called on McKinney to drop out of the race after McKinney's financial problems came to light, as well as water access issues at the Orange County Academy he founded. Edwards, who was first elected in 2010 and then re-elected in 2012, qualified via petition, proving it will be difficult for his challengers to take out an incumbent who still has powerful name recognition in the district.

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