After watching three Republicans on the Palm Beach County Commission head to prison on corruption charges, one might imagine local Democratic operatives corking champagne bottles in anticipation of next year's battle to fill the seat held by Republican Commissioner Steven Abrams.
But politics in Corruption County are never that simple. Indeed, the Dems have yet to find anyone to run against Abrams. "Of all the races we're scoping out, it's probably the toughest race in the county," says Mark Siegel, chairman of the
Palm Beach County Democratic Executive Committee.
Wait, seriously? Abrams' District 4 seat includes the Boca Raton and Delray Beach areas once represented by disgraced former commissioner Mary McCarty, who's now serving prison time for steering county bond underwriting contracts to her husband's firm and accepting free hotel stays from a developer.
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Abrams is a member of the county's Republican establishment. He was appointed by Gov. Charlie Crist -- who's not terribly popular with anyone these days -- to fill McCarty's seat. Plus, Democrats now hold a slight registration advantage in the district -- 37.8 percent of voters are registered Dems, compared to 36 percent for Republicans, according to the Palm Beach Post. So what's the problem?
Well, Abrams is an incumbent, Siegel says. He also served 17 years on the Boca Raton City Council, eight of them as mayor. It's hard to dig up dirt on someone that politically popular. "He's a very nice, likable guy," says Siegel. "I know of no dirt."
Pamela Goodman, former president of the local League of Women voters, had considered running against Abrams on an anti-corruption platform, Siegel says, but she's now backed out. The best criticism she and Siegel could lodge against Abrams was for voting against the recent tax hike in Palm Beach County. Goodman called his vote "despicable" and said it would require the county to make deep cuts in service. But voting against higher taxes is hardly a political felony in tough economic times.
So, it appears the field against Abrams will remain open. Any Dems interested in taking on this elephant?