State Rep. Joseph Abruzzo (D-District 85) has officially filed to seek the newly drawn State Senate District 25 seat, which includes most of the western communities.
Abruzzo was elected to the State House in 2008 and subsequently re-elected. He is the ranking Democrat on the Business and Consumer Affairs Subcommittee, immediate past chair of the Palm Beach County Legislative Delegation, a commissioner of the Health Care District of Palm Beach County and a member of the Florida Public Service Commission Nominating Council. He is also in his eighth year serving in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve.
Abruzzo said the new District 25 takes in most of his current State House district.
“It covers a majority of District 85, which I currently represent,” Abruzzo said. “The district as it is configured at the present time has a majority of Palm Beach County west of the turnpike, and then it cuts in east into the Palm Beach Gardens area and heads all the way in to the coast,” Abruzzo said. “It is predominantly a western Palm Beach County district, west of the turnpike.”
Aside from the western communities and Palm Beach Gardens, the district also includes the Glades and far western areas of Boca Raton, Delray Beach and Boynton Beach. “The way that districts had worked out for Wellington and Royal Palm Beach, for State Senate they were split up between multiple districts, and the same with Congress,” Abruzzo said. “Under the current maps of redistricting, Wellington, Royal Palm and the surrounding areas will have one clear congressman, state senator and state representative to go to.”
Abruzzo said the new District 25 is strongly Democratic, with a 12.3 percent Democratic Party advantage over registered Republican voters. In 2008, President Obama carried 58 percent of the vote, compared to Sen. John McCain’s 40 percent in the district. Similarly, in the 2010 gubernatorial election, Democratic candidate Alex Sink got 57 percent compared to 40 percent for Republican Rick Scott.
That’s a change for Abruzzo, who is used to representing a more evenly divided district.
“The State House seat I currently represent,” Abruzzo said, “really only performs around five-and-a half percent Democratic… I’ve never had the opportunity to represent a clear majority Democratic district.”
It remains unclear who Abruzzo will face either in a Democratic primary or the general election. However, Abruzzo said he will run a strong, active campaign.
“I am going to be running the campaign from now until November,” Abruzzo said. “I will be prepared to run a strong campaign regardless of who comes into the race. I feel confident in our message and in our community support, our leadership support and ability to raise the funds needed to get our message out, which I feel will resonate with the constituents of Senate District 25.”
Abruzzo said he will fight to create a strong economy in the state and focus on the importance of education and the dire need for affordable healthcare.
“I’ve focused a lot of my time in the legislature on protecting consumers and public safety, including safety for animals,” he said. “I’m not categorized as a one- or two- issue legislator. I’ve campaigned for economic legislation, healthcare, education, animal protection, public safety, energy. We have passed 20 laws in the four years that I’ve been fortunate enough to serve… I go up to Tallahassee to fight for our community regardless of the issue.”
Bills he has gotten passed included the Silver Alert Law protecting impaired seniors who become lost; Nicole’s Law, which requires children to wear a helmet while riding horseback; the energy-efficient appliance rebate program; the Post Disaster Relief Assistance Act; the Ivonne Rodriguez and Victoria McCullough Horse Protection Act; the Marketable Record Title Act; the decriminalization of sexting by minors; legislation aiding a direct support organization for military families; and pill mill legislation requiring facilities to be doctor-owned and doctor-operated.
Abruzzo said that if elected, he would make it a point to represent everyone, Democrats, Republicans and independents. “I will continue to run the same style of campaign, reaching out to all parties and asking for support across the board,” he said.
Abruzzo has received the endorsements of elected and community leaders including Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, former State Sen. Dave Aronberg and Palm Beach County Commission Chair Shelley Vana.
“I’ve dedicated my life to public service, and I’m hoping to continue that and represent our community in the State Senate,” he said. “I already have formulated a plan of things that I want to accomplish and continue to work on, on behalf of Palm Beach County, in the State Senate.”
Abruzzo was eyeing a State Senate run even before the Florida Supreme Court rejected the legislature’s first attempt at State Senate districts. The latest version is slightly different than the one previously presented. The plan has not yet won court approval. The Florida Supreme Court is expected to announce its decision on the redrawn districts April 26, Abruzzo said.
“This map is not set yet; however, every single map proposed, whether Republican majority, the Democrat minority, or the recommendations back from the Florida Supreme Court, has always [contained] a western Palm Beach County seat,” he said. “I feel confident to file and start my candidacy, because at the end of the day, it is highly likely that we will have a seat that resembles or is in fact exactly what is drawn at this point.”
State Rep. Mack Bernard (D-District 84) also announced that he has filed to run for one of the newly drawn State Senate seats. The new State Senate District 27 encompasses much of east-central Palm Beach County, including the majority of Bernard’s current State House district.
While the proposed District 27 lines do not include Wellington or Royal Palm Beach, Bernard said the League of Women Voters and the Democratic Party have filed models with the court that have portions of District 27 extending into parts of the western communities.
Bernard was elected to the District 84 seat in 2009 and subsequently re-elected. He is a former city commissioner in Delray Beach.
In the Florida Legislature, Bernard serves on the Redistricting Committee, the Health and Human Services Committee, the Business and Consumer Affairs Subcommittee, the Insurance and Banking Subcommittee, the Transportation and Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee, the Civil Justice Subcommittee and the House Redistricting Subcommittee.