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Orlando City Commissioner Patty Sheehan, who made history winning her Council seat in 2000, won a resounding victory on Tuesday. She took 64.3 percent of the vote, beating challengers Katie Koch and Randy Ross, according to unofficial final results.
"I'm ecstatic, and yes I had a drag queen at my victory party,” Sheehan said.
The out lesbian leader held a celebration.at Quantum Leap Winery in Orlando. In an apparent thumbing of the nose at Florida’s newly enacted drag show laws, drag performer Darcel Stevens provided the entertainment.
“It was an absolute celebration,” Sheehan said.
Florida’s new law threatens the business license of any restaurant that hosts live adult shows without prohibiting minors, and defines the shows loosely. But courts have found the law violates businesses’ First Amendment rights, and Florida cannot legally enforce it right now.
Sheehan said this victory felt especially sweet because of the negative attacks on her record.
“They tried to use my sexuality. It was a lot of nonsense,” she said.
Ross, a gay man who previously campaigned for Donald Trump in 2016, had also attacked Sheehan over recent controversy about the onePULSE Foundation. The nonprofit was formed to raise money for a museum remembering the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting, which left 49 dead at an Orlando gay bar. But after parting ways with the founder and Pulse property owner, the museum announced it had no plans for a museum anymore.
Sheehan said the nonprofit’s actions were out of the control of her and the city. She supported a recent City Council decision to buy the club for $2 million.
Ross conceded shortly after vote totals were tabulated.
Sheehan is now the longest-serving elected official in Orlando history.