Monday, June 10, 2019

2020 Elections in Palm Beach County: A rematch, Caruso vs. Bonfiglio?

Before long the 2020 Election Season in PBC will be a very big topic. For an early look at the field and candidates thus far according to the Supervisor of Elections click on this link. It’s hard to believe but it was just six months ago that Susan Bucher was suspended by Gov. Ron DeSantis. DeSantis then appointed Wendy Sartory Link to become the Supervisor of Elections and Link promptly announced she would not become a candidate for the office in 2020. But that was then.

Another Caruso/Bonfiglio race for District 89 will most certainly focus on what happened in 2018 but it remains to be seen if that issue alone will drive the voters to the polls. It may have the opposite and negative effect and depress voter turnout or drive up undervotes especially in a highly partisan election year.

Many of you will recall in November 2018 when Jim Bonfiglio lost the House District 89 race to now-State Rep. Mike Caruso; it was a very close and contentious election. Already Bonfiglio has filed to run against Caruso once again even though the five-day qualifying period does not begin until June 15th, 2020, just about a year from now. How does one get ones name on the District 89 ballot? That information is a little later in this blog post.

Is another Caruso/Bonfiglio all but certain? Of course not. A lot will happen between now and June 2020 and most certainly others will enter the fray.

In 2018 both Caruso and Bonfiglio were vying to replace Rep. Bill Hager who was term-limited but the 2020 race will pose a much different dynamic: Mike Caruso is now the incumbent which is a huge advantage.

Caruso defeated Matt Spritz in the August 2018 Republican Primary and Bonfiglio won over Ryan A. Rossi in the Democrat Primary; interestingly, both Caruso and Bonfiglio got 56% of the primary vote heading into the November General Election. Thus far no one else has joined the 2020 race for District 89 but if a primary election is held it will occur on August 25th, 2020 with the General Election the first Tuesday in November. Terms in the Florida House are for two years and term-limited to four terms.

In the 2018 Democrat Primary for District 89 Ryan Rossi had just recently graduated from FAU and was only thirty-two years old at the time which may have been a disadvantage but two years later Mr. Rossi could be a formidable challenger in the 2020 race. For more about Rossi read an article by feature editor Thomas Chiles in FAU’s University Press from November 2017 by clicking on this link. It is very likely Caruso will also have a primary challenge as well.

The State of Florida has yet to complete the 2020 Election Year Handbook with all the details and requirements to become a candidate, e.g., the candidate petition process, but in the meantime here is the address for more information to become a candidate:

Department of State, Division of Elections
Bureau of Election Records
Room 316, R.A. Gray Building
500 South Bronough Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0250

District 89 covers coastal Palm Beach County along Highland Beach to the south to Riviera Beach in the north with Lake Worth Beach roughly in the center of the district. Here are two excerpts from journalist Ryan Nicol at Florida Politics, news datelined June 6th:

Former Ocean Ridge Mayor Jim Bonfiglio is pushing for a rematch against GOP state Rep. Mike Caruso in House District 89.

Bonfiglio has filed to enter the 2020 contest as a Democrat, according to the Florida Division of Elections website. The two competed in 2018 to replace outgoing GOP Rep. Bill Hager, who was term-limited.

That 2018 contest was one of six throughout the state to head to a mandatory machine recount. After all votes were cast, Caruso edged Bonfiglio by just 32 votes out of more than 78,000.

and. . .

Bonfiglio gave Caruso some stiff competition both in the vote tally and in the fundraising game, with Bonfiglio willing to put in his own money. Still, Caruso largely led in outside donations.

The district has been competitive for several cycles, though not nearly as close as the 2018 contest.

The news from Ryan Nicol ends with this short paragraph, “So far, no other candidates have filed to run on either the Democratic or Republican side.”

But once again, it’s still very early.