District 100 Drama: Is Love Behind the Race?

This is one of those stories that's borderline, but it's the buzz of the political underworld in Broward County and concerns one of the area's more interesting political races, so I feel it should be told. Once.  

It's about the District 100 Florida House of Representatives race between incumbent Evan Jenne and Chris Chiari. And through no fault of her own, it concerns a young woman, Annie Gallagher, a political consultant and daughter of a School Board member.

Chiari and Gallagher met late last year in political circles and socialized together. They worked on Judy Paul's campaign together, Gallagher as campaign coordinator and Chiari as a volunteer. Chiari says that they dated and that he fell in love with her. Gallagher says she socialized with Chiari at political functions but she never considered it a "relationship."

She stopped socializing with Chiari in May. He says his heart was broken and he sent her emails in hopes of winning her back, but it's over. 

Enter state Rep. Evan Jenne. 

Sources say Jenne and Gallagher not only became closer friends but began to date. Both (for perfectly legitimate reasons) refused to say whether they dated, but neither denied it. 

At one point, Chiari, after hearing the rumor about Jenne, sent an email to Gallagher asking about her relationship with the legislator. 

Certain political folks, most of them lining up against Chiari, say this story shows that Chiari decided to make his surprise run against Jenne because of the situation with Gallagher. Some even saw it as a political bombshell for Chiari.

Even Jenne lends some credence to the idea that it may be the reason for the race.

"[Chiari] has given 18 different reasons why he wants to run against me, and none of them make any sense to me," Jenne told me today. "I always thought it was

personal. Who knows what's going through his mind? Could he be upset because he thinks I'm dating somebody that he had a thing for? Could be, but I don't know."

Chiari says none of it has anything to do with his reason for running against Jenne. He said he doesn't know about the relationship between Jenne and Gallagher and that it's "none of my business." 

"I'm not interested in seeing people play games, because the central issue of this campaign is corruption," said Chiari. "Evan knows that very well, and I think that all of this is designed to distract from what's going on in this campaign. Was I emotionally crushed? Yes. But I have gotten over it, and I don't get the girl back by running against Evan. I make the situation worse. If it was about getting the girl back, how does running against him get me the girl?"

Gallagher told me that she just wanted the whole thing to go away. 

"I don't want to be tied to this," she said. "I just want to do my job and be left alone."

OK, there's the story. Now I'm going to leave it alone. 

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Journalist Bob Norman has been raking the muck of South Florida for the past 25 years. His work has led to criminal cases against corrupt politicians, the ouster of bad judges from the bench, and has garnered dozens of state, regional, and national awards.
Contact: Bob Norman