Undercurrents | New Times Broward-Palm Beach


When challenging one of the most successful fundraisers in the Republican party, a Democratic candidate for the United States Congress must devise unique strategies. Incumbent congressman Mark Foley of South Florida's 16th District has already raised a half-million dollars in six months. So what does upstart Democratic citizen-candidate Jean Elliott Brown do? She calls out to Parrot Heads to flock to her campaign.

Because Brown doesn't have a lot of insider connections to big money, she decided to cold-call Palm Beach resident Jimmy Buffett to ask for support and dollars. After tracking him down through a management company in California, Brown got a breakfast meeting with Buffett in Washington, D.C. Turns out the ol' pirate has concerns about Foley's record on environmental issues and gave Brown the maximum personal donation of $2000.

But the real support lies in the untapped congregation of Parrot Heads who worship Buffett and populate Florida. It seems Buffett has tentatively agreed to use one of his concerts scheduled for West Palm Beach in December to help Brown raise money and awareness about her uphill run against Foley. She says she may get a certain number of donated concert tickets to auction off to help bankroll her fledgling campaign. Buffett already carves out a portion of his concert proceeds to fund a nonprofit foundation that gives money to progressive groups around the country.

Brown has never run for office and was motivated by her involvement in the grassroots MoveOn campaign that called for putting the brakes on the Clinton impeachment imbroglio. Brown, who has a background in public relations and lives in Palm Beach Gardens, gathered thousands of signatures calling for an end to the impeachment battle. Despite the fact that a majority of his constituents were against removing the oversexed president, Foley voted for two articles of impeachment. Brown saw her opening and decided to challenge. The MoveOn Website (MoveOn.org) has already generated $70,000 in cyber-dollar donations to Brown's campaign.

Brown has also shown moxie by cold-calling other wealthy voters such as attorney Bob Montgomery, who led the state's fight against Big Tobacco and won. He donated $1000, and Brown's funds now stand at about $120,000. Unfortunately she'll need at least a million to have a chance at winning. But, hey, that works out to about one dollar per Parrot Head.

Speaking of extremely rich stars throwing their money around in our area, the most popular crooner in the world is opening a restaurant in Hollywood, a city that has seen a recent exodus of dining establishments.

Latin balladeer Julio Iglesias, who has sold 200 million albums in five languages, is rumored to be opening an upscale eatery called Estrella Del Mar. The man, who has a worldwide following thanks to romantic lyrics and silky-smooth vocals, developed those singing talents while growing up in Madrid. So it's natural that Spanish flavors will dominate the menu.

With the closing of such restaurants as Tac "O" the Town and Revolution 2029, the addition of this upscale joint with star power is welcome news to the city's boosters.

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