Bill Hager Faces Major Challenger in David Silvers

By: Jeff Henderson | Posted: December 9, 2013 3:55 AM
Bill Hager

Bill Hager

After a narrow win in 2012, Republican Bill Hager can expect another tough fight for his House seat in Palm Beach County.

After beating Democrat Tom Gustafson, a former House speaker, last year by 52 percent to 48 percent, Hager has another tough assignment on his hands. Democrats have high hopes for new candidate David Silvers, a businessman who is 34.

Silvers has an interesting background, working at Tekno Books, developing and marketing electronic books. Before that he worked at movietickets.com, looking for expansion opportunities and international growth. Already going after Hager on insurance issues and for being a career politician, Silvers is clearly intending to give the Republican a fight.

Democrats in Tallahassee clearly relish the idea of knocking off Hager. Allison Tant is already singing Silvers’ praises. With few opportuntities to knock off Republican incumbents in the Florida Senate and Democrats playing defense, especially with some Central Florida seats in the Florida House, Silvers can expect a lot of love from the Democratic leadership.

On paper, Hager has a slight edge in this swing district. Even with Barack Obama’s and Bill Nelson’s coattails, Gustafson could not defeat Hager in 2012. Hager also won by a bigger margin than Rick Scott did here in 2010 when he only edged Democrat Alex Sink by 2 percent.

Hager also has his own impressive set of credentials which include stints as an assistant attorney general and state insurance commissioner in Iowa and as a congressional aide. Moving to Florida in 1990, Hager rose up the ladder in local politics, rising to serve as vice mayor of Boca Raton and putting in seven years on the City Council.

Elected to the Florida House in 2010, Hager is moving up the committee ladder and right now he is the vice chair of both the Civil Justice Subcommittee and the Insurance and Banking Subcommittee. No surprise given his background, Hager is one of the Republican point men on policy in the House. If he keeps his seat in 2014, Hager should continue to rise up the Republican and the committee ranks.

But that’s no sure thing, even as Republicans hold a slight edge over Democrats in this Palm Beach County district. Hager had around $70,000 in the bank at the end of October and he should be able to continue raising money as the contest heats up. But Silvers is a solid candidate and Democrats are right to be invested in him in this swing district. Expect this to be one of the most competitive legislative races in 2014.

Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis piece exclusively for Sunshine State News.

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