In a move bound to shake up the local Democratic machine, two-time Florida House candidate Chris Chiari filed yesterday to run against state Rep. Evan Jenne, who strolled into office in 2006 with the help of his since-disgraced father, former Sheriff Ken Jenne.
It's the first time Chiari, who lost two bids to unseat Republican Rep. Ellyn Bogdanoff in District 91, has challenged an incumbent Democrat. But he says he doesn't consider Jenne so much a politician as a "tool" for the law firms and lobbyists that fund his campaigns.
Specifically, he says Jenne is too close to Judy Stern, the lobbyist who has helped managed Jenne's campaigns (and whose consulting firm has received more than $30,000 from Jenne's coffers). Chiari says Stern wields way too much power with Jenne and other South Florida Democrats.
"We always knew that lobbyists had a seat at the table, but now we know they own seats on the floor of the House," says Chiari. "Candidates like Evan Jenne are complicit in that. Enough is enough. We can't just be tired about politics as usual. We have to make a change, and change is about action, not talking."
He says that Jenne's 2008 campaign received 341 contributions and that only 11 of them were from individuals rather than special interests (to see Jenne's contributor list, click here). Chiari, an independently wealthy business consultant, knows this in part because was one of those individual contributors, giving Jenne (at right) $250 on September 18, 2008.
"There are a lot of people not being represented in that district," said Chiari. "Those are the people I'm in this for."
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Chiari also noted that Jenne was recently found guilty of five campaign violations by the Florida Elections Commissions and fined $2,500.
"Evan has proven to be incompetent," said Chiari. "He has assumed he's entitled to his seat. He won his first election in 2006 unopposed with $90,000 raised for him. He's not representing the people in his district."
Chiari is selling his Fort Lauderdale house and has already rented a new home in Davie to qualify to run in District 100, which covers Dania Beach and parts of Davie and Cooper City.
I'm putting in a call to Jenne this morning and hoping for his response to post later.