Tami Donnally Eyes Challenge To Rep. Pafford

After nearly unseating an incumbent Democrat in 2010, Republican Tami Donnally told the Town-Crier this week that she is planning another run for the Florida House of Representatives, this time challenging State Rep. Mark Pafford (D-District 88).

“I’m sending the papers to Tallahassee, and they should be there by the end of the week,” Donnally said Tuesday.

Pafford’s District 88 has been redrawn and renumbered. Now known as District 86, it includes nearly all of the western communities, including Wellington, which Pafford has not represented previously.

Donnally ran in 2010 against State Rep. Joseph Abruzzo (D-District 85), taking 47.5 percent of the vote. “It was a little more than 4 points in the end that I lost by,” she said.

Both districts lean Democratic, with the new District 86 somewhat more Democratic than the old District 85.

Donnally said Pafford’s new district leans Democratic by about 14 percent, whereas the old District 85 leaned Democratic by about 10 percent.

“For me, it’s going to be a tougher race,” she said.

Pafford’s current District 88 is among the most Democratic in the state, and he has never faced a Republican challenger in the general election.

Aside from their obvious political disagreements, Donnally said she has nothing personally against Pafford, who will be seeking his third term in office.

“I’ve met him; he’s a very nice man, but he’s up for election, and people must have a choice,” Donnally said.

Donnally is business administrator at EBC Ministries in Greenacres, where her husband is minister and president. They have a 29-year-old daughter. Donnally holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in religious education from Evangelical Bible College & Seminary.

Donnally is a Republican committeewoman and president of the Republican Club of Central Palm Beach County. In her previous campaign, she focused on economic issues, but also espoused conservative positions on a number of social issues, such as abortion and immigration.

A resident of Winston Trails, Donnally said she currently lives outside District 86, but “by a stone’s throw.” She plans to move.

“We haven’t started looking yet, but we understand that we have to move; that’s the reality when you win that seat,” she said. “You have to live in the district, so we’re moving. We’re going to look around and see what’s available.”

Although she lost to Abruzzo in 2010, she said she feels she gained recognition from that race.

“I do think I’ll have better name recognition because of the good race that we ran last time,” she said. “I did spend a lot of time in Wellington. Once again, Wellington is a major part of the district. It does go into Royal Palm Beach this time, and a lot of developments along Okeechobee Blvd., but a big chunk of it is Wellington.”

Donnally stressed that she plans to run a clean campaign focused on the issues. “I would love to have another good race, and like I said, it’s what our country’s about, so people can choose,” she said. “If you have just one person, it’s not much of a race. Because I do believe in running a clean race, I hope that after the election in November, Mark Pafford and I will part friends, just as Joe Abruzzo and I parted friends at the conclusion of the 2010 race.”

Pafford said that he is aware that Donnally will be running and looks forward to the campaign.

“I met her a couple of times,” Pafford said. “She’s a nice person. She’s got her views on things, and obviously she wouldn’t be running against me if our views were the same. I think it will be a good opportunity for me to talk about the last four years and what I’ve done.”

Pafford noted that he has never had to run in a general election but was challenged by Wellington businessman Ron Miranda in a 2010 Democratic primary.

“She’s in it, so we’ll have a race,” Pafford said. “Like I said, she’s a very nice person, and I’m sure it’ll be a good race.”