Trying to jump from the Florida House to the state Senate, Rep. Joe Abruzzo, D-Wellington, has the financial edge over two Republicans clashing in the primary to see who will challenge him.
As a result of the Legislature’s redistricting process earlier in the year, the new Senate district contains most of Palm Beach County encompassing the western part of it, including Belle Glade and Wellington, but only including a little bit of the coastal communities around Palm Beach Gardens.
First elected to the Florida House in 2008, Abruzzo, a businessman and Coast Guard veteran who represents parts of Palm Beach County, has risen to become the ranking Democrat on the Business and Consumer Affairs Subcommittee.
During his time in the House, Abruzzo has won the applause of numerous groups including being named the “legislator of the year” by the Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) Maritime Council in 2011 and the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans in 2010. The Wellington Democrat has also been given awards by the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association.
Abruzzo continues to retain the support of some members of the Florida business community. On Monday, the Florida Retail Federation announced that it was endorsing his bid for a Senate seat. The Florida Chamber of Commerce is also backing Abruzzo.
Through the second quarter of 2012, Abruzzo has raised almost $100,000 and has kept his powder dry, spending less than $15,000. He faces no opposition in the Democratic primary.
Two Republicans are fighting for their party’s nomination in the Aug. 14 primary but they both trail Abruzzo in the money chase.
Realtor and horse trainer Melanie Peterson, who served with the Palm Beach Soil and Water Conservation District, is pushing her local roots and stressing the need for smaller government in Tallahassee. Through the second quarter of 2012, Peterson has raised less than $17,000 and spent almost $6,300.
Peterson is facing lawyer Geoff Sommers, a former congressional staffer who is also stressing his ties to the area and calling for less regulation. Sommers, who flies up to Washington once a week to teach a class on international law, has raised less than $17,000 and has loaned his campaign $40,000. At the end of the second quarter of 2012, Sommers had spent less than $33,000.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (850) 727-0859.