The race to see who is our area’s newest member of the state House of Representatives turned into one of the most unusual in a long time.
The race was supposed to pit Republican Rep. Mike Horner against Democratic newcomer Eileen Game. Horner, although running in a “new” district, was the incumbent in the race and Game was destined to be a footnote in this year’s election. She had a miniscule war chest and not even too much backing from the Democratic Party of Florida.
Everything changed when Horner’s name reportedly came up on the client list of an Orlando area brothel. He was not charged with any crime but resigned his position in the House of Representatives and dropped out of the race.
Because the ballots were already printed, Horner’s name could not be removed and the Republican Party had to find someone to run in his place. Mike LaRosa, a Realtor from Celebration called the party and told them he was interested.
LaRosa and his family run a large real estate company in Celebration. He points to the fact that his business survived the Great Recession when many real estate companies did not, is evidence that he is capable of running a business and understanding what small business people face each day.
He recently moved from outside the district into his district and he’s lived in St. Cloud for 15 years. He is married to his high school girlfriend, Holly, and has 4-year-old twins and a son who is 2. He moved to St. Cloud from Miami.
Game recently moved from outside the district, as well. So, voters here are faced with picking two candidates who don’t have too much experience dealing with and interacting with the people of Polk County. That is an unfortunate choice, indeed.
But we must choose.
On the one hand we have a Democratic candidate who is registered to vote in Polk County, recently moved to Frostproof but lived most of the time in Fort Lauderdale. On the other hand we have a Republican candidate who moved into the district to run for the race but didn’t have to move as far but also doesn’t have much of a connection with Polk County.
LaRosa doesn’t have much invested in the race. He jumped in just a few weeks ago. Game’s campaign was very low key until Horner’s scandal broke and when the Democratic Party smelled victory it threw a bunch of money her way.
In fact the mailers the party sent to area voters recently mentioned Horner’s link to the brothel but didn’t quite let voters know that Horner was no longer running. Dirty politics, indeed. We would have liked to see Game denounce those tactics done on her behalf.
We like Game and think that she is a bright individual who appears to genuinely care about the issues. She has earned a master’s degree in industrial management and likes to say she is “kind of nerdy and introverted.” We think she understands the plight of the working people of her district and would study the issues carefully if elected to the House.
She has an understanding of how the Florida economy works and would like to see more small farms and manufacturing nurtured in this area.
Voters should be aware that according to U.S. Bankruptcy Court records Game filed for personal bankruptcy in January 2011. The filing showed that she owed the Internal Revenue Service more than $146,000 in back taxes. Game resolved the bankruptcy in May 2011, agreeing to pay her creditors smaller sums.
Game was also a manager with the accounting firms Ernst & Young and Grant Thornton. She now owns a small information-technology consulting business.
LaRosa is a smart business person who seems to have a lot of energy. We applaud him for volunteering to enter the race at the 11th hour. His name will not appear on the ballot. Voters will be have to vote for Mike Horner in order to vote for LaRosa.
Game was in the race from beginning, even when she had to know that her candidacy was long shot.
That is a sign, we think, that she is a woman of conviction.
She has the brains of a computer programmer and the heart of a working person.
The circumstances surrounding this race are not perfect and both candidates have some excellent qualities and some things that give us pause. But one of them will represent us in Tallahassee next year.
We think Eileen Game is the best choice in this race and deserves a chance to represent us in the Florida House of Representatives.