Should Deutch Thank Madoff for His Congressional Win? | New Times Broward-Palm Beach

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Should Deutch Thank Madoff for His Congressional Win?

National media pundits try so hard to understand South Florida. Bless their hearts; they find the weird mix of hanging chads, Ponzi schemers, gator wrestlers, and condo flippers to be terribly confusing. And once in a while, they just flub completely.

This morning on NPR's The Diane Rehm Show, the subject turned to Ted Deutch's win in the special congressional election to replace Robert Wexler in District 19.

Since this was the first congressional race of the year, Rehm wanted to know if Deutch's victory signaled voters' approval of Obama's heath care overhaul. Or was the district, which stretches roughly from Century Village to Tamarac, so solidly Democratic that a Republican never

stood a chance?

Many people would say that a district where 65 percent of voters favored Obama in 2008 is, of course, a Democratic stronghold. Deutch, after all, is from Boca Raton, a bastion of bagels, lox, and well-heeled liberals.

But Linda Wertheimer, a senior national correspondent for NPR, chose to answer the question this way:

"This is also the epicenter of Madoff in Florida," she said. "Mr. Madoff impoverished a number of otherwise very wealthy people. I think that there's just a lot of feeling among Democrats, even Democrats who have the kind of money that might encourage them to wander, that they're not wandering this year." 

Huh? Last time I checked, the actual epicenter of Madoff's scam was the Town of Palm Beach -- which is not part of District 19. And although many of Madoff's investors were his country club pals from Boca, it's tough to imagine that those people suddenly became more loyal to a particular party thanks to their money troubles. (Madoff himself gave quite generously to Democratic candidates).

Deutch won because he was running in a heavily Democratic district, and he painted himself as Wexler the Sequel.

Still, it's fun to imagine that Madoff is chuckling in his cell, proud to be credited with influencing a major congressional election.