The Broward School Board Race That Will Decide Who's the Pied Piper of Condo Votes | New Times Broward-Palm Beach

Broward News

The Broward School Board Race That Will Decide Who's the Pied Piper of Condo Votes

In Broward County elections, the condo vote is the most coveted, and for several election cycles, two figures have emerged as powerful mobilizers of that vote: Barry Harris and Norma Goldstein.

It's hard for candidates to tell which of the two is more skilled at rounding up votes from the county's biggest senior residential communities. Harris is adept at guiding his clients through meetings with those vote-happy seniors, but Goldstein has sway with the region's most voter-rich condo community: Kings Point in Tamarac.

For a clue about who's the premier vote gatherer, keep your eye on today's District 4 race for Broward County School Board.

District 4 has been vacated by Stephanie Kraft, who has to campaign to keep corruption investigators at bay. The two frontrunners in the race to fill her seat are Dave Thomas and Robert Mayersohn.

If spending is any indication, Thomas is the slight favorite. The retired Navy man, who has worked more recently as a teacher at J.P. Taravella in Coral Springs, spent $14,000 on his campaign, compared to $10,500 by Mayersohn.

Mayersohn devoted a larger percentage of his campaign spending to campaign literature, while Thomas placed a sizable bet on the talents of Barry Harris -- an $8,000 bet, to be exact. That's more than half his total spending. A Democratic operative who is close to Broward party chair Mitch Ceasar, Harris knows not only the condo commandos in the region but all the folks in local Democratic clubs. The two have a tendency to overlap. (For more on Harris, see this article by Bob Norman.)

Maybe that made Mayersohn a little anxious, because last Monday, August 19, he paid Norma Goldstein $200 to set up a luncheon with her friends at Kings Point. The bill at the Tamarac Cafe on West McNab Road came to $1,275. Altogether, that's a nearly $1,500 wager that Goldstein can rally the Mayersohn campaign.

And Goldstein certainly has a record of performing for Broward County officials. A member of the so-called Mitch Ceasar Mob, Goldstein deserves much of the credit for keeping Commissioner Stacy Ritter comfortable in her place on the dais.

The Broward Democratic Club hasn't endorsed either candidate, but my suspicion is that Ceasar's going to be rooting for Thomas, who has been making payments to Harris for several months, rather than Mayersohn, who has only recently discovered the importance of spending his campaign dollars with the party's close friends.

Then again, if Mayersohn pulls off the upset, it would be a major show of force for Goldstein, who will be in even higher demand during the next campaign cycle.