ORLANDO, Florida — A Democrat has represented much of Central Florida after a Republican held firm to the U.S. District 7 congressional seat for more than two decades -- but now a Republican is trying to take the seat back.
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Stephanie Murphy sent political shockwaves through Central Florida in 2016 when she beat longtime Republican Rep. John Mica, who had held the District 7 seat for more than two decades.
Republican Mike Miller hopes to unseat Murphy and return the seat back to GOP control.
“I think it’s a center-right district, and I think the people of Central Florida believe more in the direction the country, that we’re going in the right place. So when I talk to people they believe in that direction, and I’m going to try to support that,” Miller said.
Murphy joined a rally at UCF on the first day of early voting in Orange County, urging students to take part and cast a ballot ahead of Election Day. She believes many people in her district want to move in a different direction than the president and the currently GOP-led congress.
“I believe that we need to have a congress that can hold this administration accountable,” said Murphy.
District 7 includes all of Seminole County, a typically-republican leaning area, and parts of northern Orange County, including Winter Park, and the northeast section of downtown Orlando, which leans Democratic.
What voters decide in this district in November could be a window into what voters decided across Central Florida. Murphy believes UCF students and other young people could be key in deciding the election.
“In our democracy, every vote counts, and it’s really important for young people to be participating in their democracy, particularly since so many of the issues affect them and affect their futures,” said Murphy.
The Parkland high school shooting in February 2018 thrust the gun debate back into the spotlight once again. Murphy and Miller disagree on how they believe congressional leaders should respond to mass shootings.
“I think as a nation we need to work together, passing common sense gun safety measures that keep our communities safe,” said Murphy.
“The focus should be in trying to figure out who needs help and not punish the 99 percent for the one man who tragically did something that I think should’ve been stopped long before it got to that level,” said Miller.
Miller believes talk of a “blue-wave” in the mid-term elections is overstated. He believes the District 7 race comes down to what the people of Central Florida want for their community.
“I think those are talking points when you watch the Sunday shows -- they group everybody together,” said Miller.
Murphy believes after two years in office, her constituents will re-elect her to another term.
“I know we can do it,” said Murphy. “Too much is on the line for us to stay home and not cast our vote, have our voices heard.”