One of the features of the new Broward Squeeze (as well as our other soon-to-be launched regional sites) is handicapping local races. With today’s launch of the Broward Squeeze we are going to look at the open State Senate District 29 Democratic Primary in 2016. The seat is being vacated in 2016 by Senator Jeremy Ring who is term limited.
District: Includes Coral Springs, Parkland, Margate, Tamarac parts of Coconut Creek, Pompano Beach Weston, Sunrise, and Deerfield Beach. This is probably the single most condo heavy district in the entire state and contains Palm Aire, Century Village Deerfield, Wynmoor, Kings Point, all of the smaller Margate condos like Oriole Gardens and the western part of Sunrise Lakes. It’s a heavily senior and liberal primary electorate with many transplants from the Northeast. It’s a heavily Democratic district and Republicans are largely irrelevant here. The Democratic Primary is tantamount to election.
Expected primary turnout based on the last election: 23,432
50 + 1 in a two way race: 11,716
Strengths: Former State Representative and Coconut Creek Commissioner has the ability both to raise money and put in his own cash as well. He is a good speaker and is starting off with a strong base in Coconut Creek and the Wynmoor Condo area. He also represented the Margate condo areas in the State House from 2006-2014.
Weaknesses: Rep. Waldman’s work as a lobbyist won’t go over positively with many voters and he is not well known outside Coconut Creek.
Assessment: Grade A candidate – Waldman’s ability to raise money coupled with having a base makes him a formidable candidate.
Strengths: He is very wealthy and the word on the street is that he is willing to use his wealth to outspend his opponents. He is very connected to the statewide network of trial lawyers and has been a strong advocate for the trial bar in Tallahassee
Weaknesses: Was a partner in the firm of the infamous Scott Rothstein’s. Beyond Rothstein’s well publicized corruption, the firm also was major donors to Republican candidates. Farmer is not well known in the district and is starting with no base.
Candidacy’s strength: Grade B -. Money makes a difference and that’s why he’s earned B – status but its tough for me to give him a higher grade at this point in time because he will have difficulty buying this seat and overcoming his weaknesses. Still he has a shot, particularly if the race remains between just he and Waldman.
Strengths: Coral Springs Mayor Skip Campbell has represented a large part of this seat previously and likely has the highest name identification among the potential candidates. He has a base and is currently is representing the city of Coral Springs as Mayor. Coral Springs contains about a 1/3 of the current district’s population. He had a strong record of passing legislation in Tallahassee. He ran statewide and was the Democratic nominee for Attorney General in 2006. He can raise money and has his own money if needed.
Weaknesses: Campbell is older than his potential opponents – a question has to be asked whether he will have the energy to wage a strong campaign.
Will he get help via the trial lawyers statewide with Farmer in the race? Probably not, quite honestly but might still hold many local lawyers. He can be exposed for some high profile votes and legislation in Tallahassee including the infamous adoption bill
that he sponsored & championed. He also could be seen as breaking his commitment to Coral Springs, where almost one third of the districts residents live (but not 1/3 of the primary voters importantly) if he were to abandon the city after less than two years as Mayor.
Candidacy Strength: Grade A – . Mayor Campbell has likely the higher name identification and the strongest base. The question has been of late regarding him is how much effort would he put forth? He also has more potential liabilities as a candidate than anyone outside of Farmer.
Strengths: A female candidate in a potential sea of male candidates would have an obvious demographic advantage. Rep. Jacobs is a passionate advocate for the environment which is an issue that has picked up steam in recent years with the electorate inspite of what some Florida Democrats who ignore it might think. She is fresh off of a major victory in parts of the district and her name id there should be high. She served as a County Commissioner for 16 years and got more television news airtime than any member of the State Legislature will ever get. She also ran for Congress in areas east of here in 2012.
Weaknesses: Some of her votes on the county commission can be challenged on a number of issues most notably the Florida Panthers tax break and the Coconut Creek landfill. She doesn’t have the personal wealth of other potential candidates and might have to rely on fundraising. Can she raise Tallahassee money against other Tallahassee connected candidates? She is unfamiliar with much of this district having represented areas east on the County Commission (Jacobs did represent Palm Aire for much of her time on the County Commission.)
Candidacy Strength: A . She showed her campaign prowess recently in her state house race which she won overwhelmingly. The key in this race would be can she raise the money. If she does raise the money, Jacobs will likely win particularly if she faces multiple male candidates. One potential stumbling block could be her lack of familiarity with the western portions of the district but that can be offset with the right campaign strategy.
Other potential names: County Commissioner Stacy Ritter would be very strong but she likely isn’t interested. Former Coral Springs Mayor Scott Brook might be interested in this seat but is more likely to wait until Rep. Jared Moskowitz’s vacates House District 97. Brook would have a very difficult time navigating a Democratic Primary given his long-term flirtation with local Republicans in Coral Springs. Sitting Coral Springs City Commissioner Dan Daley has cynically switched parties from Republican to Democrat in recent weeks and could be eyeing this seat. Daley is more likely to wait for House District 97 to be open much like Brook.
Race assessment: As of now Farmer and Waldman are certainties for the race. Jacobs and Campbell are considering it. A common theme you will hear from us as we assess these districts is that in Democratic primaries, there is so much money can buy, and at some point you hit a a law of diminishing returns. It’s just not expensive to win over the few voters in a Democratic Primary voters so as long as you have enough money to be competitive. It doesn’t really matter much whether you are significantly outspent and that goes double if this becomes race with three or more candidates where lets say winning over 5000-6000 votes is all that it will take to win. For this reason, also its critical to wage a strong on the ground grassroots campaign, especially in the condo areas. This is how Jeremy Ring won the seat in 2006 and Skip Campbell in 1996. While both were able to self-fund, the real impact both candidates made were in winning over condo voters with hard work on the ground. I can envision scenarios where any of these four potential candidates with this race. For the moment in a two- way race, I’d put my money on Waldman. I do believe in a three or four way race, Jacobs becomes the favorite. If Jacobs does not run but Campbell does, the race becomes a toss-up between Waldman and Campbell. In this scenario Farmer would still have a shot though he would be considered the underdog.