HD 89 Archives - Florida Politics

Mike Caruso declared winner following recount in HD 89

Republican Mike Caruso has been declared the next state representative from House District 89, defeating his Democratic opponent by just 37 votes in the official results.

The race between Caruso and Ocean Ridge Mayor Jim Bonfiglio went through both a machine and manual recount as a result of the razor-thin margin. But once completing those recounts, Caruso held on to his 37-vote margin out of about 80,000 votes cast.

Caruso wins the race with 50.02 percent of the vote to Bonfiglio’s 49.98 percent.

All recounts faced a Sunday deadline, certifying the final results.

Palm Beach County, under Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher, dealt with all sorts of problems following the Nov. 6 election.

The county faced four recounts in total, as the statewide races for U.S. Senate, Agriculture Commissioner and Governor all were within machine recount range, in addition to the HD 89 contest.

However, the county’s machines were only able to conduct one recount at a time. Palm Beach failed to complete a single one of those recounts in time for the deadline to report updated numbers to determine whether races needed an additional hand recount.

Bonfiglio sued during this process, arguing that the canvassing board should move his race up in the queue, given its close margin and the comparatively fewer numbers of votes to sort through.

After a federal judge issued an order allowing the canvassing board to do just that, the county did complete its recount of the race.

Still, Caruso’s margin stood up. He’ll be sworn in Tuesday to replace outgoing GOP state Rep. Bill Hager, who was term-limited.

Judge allows HD 89 recount to begin ahead of statewide races

U.S. District Judge Mark Walker issued an order Friday allowing the Palm Beach County canvassing board to proceed with a machine recount of House District 89 once the hand recount in the U.S. Senate race is completed.

Democratic HD 89 candidate Jim Bonfiglio, who is trailing his Republican opponent, Mike Caruso, by just 37 votes, has now requested the canvassing board recount his race as soon as possible.

Judge Walker’s order only permits the canvassing board to move the HD 89 race up in line; it does not mandate they do so.

The order comes as part of a lawsuit filed by Bonfiglio in Leon County, requesting that the recount deadlines be extended and the recount for his race begin immediately.

That suit was removed to federal court by Secretary of State Ken Detzner.

Walker’s order does say if the canvassing board fails to begin the HD 89 recount in a timely manner, Bonfiglio may return to court “so that the case can be addressed on the merits.”

Originally, the canvassing board planned on recounting the races in the order they appeared on the ballot. That would mean the U.S. Senate race would come first, followed by the Governor’s race, the contest for Agriculture Commissioner, and then HD 89, in that order.

All four races were within the 0.5 percentage point range of the margin of victory, requiring a machine recount.

However, the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections office, headed by Susan Bucher, failed to complete a single one of those machine recounts in time for Thursday’s 3 p.m. deadline.

That deadline was to determine whether races need to undergo an additional hand recount. After the machine recounts were (supposed to be) completed, races within 0.25 percentage points are required to be recounted manually, according to Florida law.

But because Palm Beach County (as well as Broward County) missed the deadline, the original, unofficial numbers were used to determine which races remained with 0.25 percentage points.

It does not appear as though the counties’ failures to complete those machine recounts had an effect on which races require a manual recount.

Recounts, even machine recounts, may proceed until Sunday’s deadline to certify the vote totals. At Palm Beach’s current pace, it is unlikely workers would even get to the HD 89 contest, which would leave Caruso’s 37-vote win intact.

While any yet-to-be completed machine recounts cannot go toward determining whether a race is in manual recount range, per Thursday’s deadline, they can count toward the final vote tally.

Caruso Bonfiglio

Jim Bonfiglio recount lawsuit ‘removed’ to federal court

A lawsuit filed by Democratic House District 89 candidate Jim Bonfiglio demanding an immediate recount in his race has now been transferred to federal court.

Bonfiglio first filed the lawsuit Monday in the state’s 2nd Judicial Circuit, based in Tallahassee.

Secretary of State Ken Detzner, the Palm Beach County canvassing board, and Palm Beach Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher were listed as defendants.

Detzner now argues the lawsuit belongs in federal court, filing what’s known as a “notice of removal.”

The Secretary of State noted Bonfiglio’s concerns that the Palm Beach County may not complete a recount of the HD 89 race prior to the deadline under Florida law.

Bonfiglio’s arguments come down to claims that his rights under due process and equal protection provisions in the U.S. Constitution are being violated. Thus, Detzner argues, a federal court is the proper venue for the case.

In his lawsuit, Bonfiglio highlighted comments by Bucher that Palm Beach may not be able to complete all of its recounts by the deadline of Thursday at 3 p.m. The Democrat demanded that deadline be extended.

In addition to Bonfiglio’s HD 89 contest, the races for Governor, U.S. Senate and Agriculture Commissioner also are going through a recount.

Bonfiglio currently sits just 37 votes behind Republican candidate Mike Caruso.

Bonfiglio’s suit notes that the Palm Beach County canvassing board is recounting the races “in the order they appear on the ballot, placing the HD 89 recount last, making it the least likely to be recounted” by Thursday’s deadline.

Bonfiglio also asked that his recount begin immediately, so as to ensure it is completed in time.

“We always knew this race would be close,” Bonfiglio said. “What we’re fighting for now is the right of HD 89 voters’ to have their voices heard.”

Jim Bonfiglio

Jim Bonfiglio sues to extend vote reporting deadline, begin recount in HD 89

Jim Bonfiglio, the Democratic candidate in House District 89, on Monday filed a lawsuit demanding the extension of the vote reporting deadline in his race against Republican Mike Caruso.

In sum, Bonfiglio is concerned that with all the other ongoing recounts, namely statewide offices, elections officials won’t have time to do his race.

The race is one of several in the state within recount range. The most recent vote tally puts Caruso ahead by just 37 votes, giving him a lead of 50.02 percent to 49.98 percent over Bonfiglio.

Bonfiglio’s suit is filed against Secretary of State Ken Detzner, the Palm Beach County canvassing board, and the Palm Beach Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher.

In the lawsuit, Bonfiglio’s lawyers seek to “compel Defendants to take such steps as are necessary to allow Florida Electors within Palm Beach County, and more specifically, HD 89, a meaningful opportunity to have their votes properly counted.”

Bucher has previously said she is unable to complete the necessary machine recounts by this Thursday’s deadline.

Bonfiglio’s team notes the canvassing board “decided to recount the races in the order they appear on the ballot, placing the HD 89 recount last, making it the least likely to be recounted by the deadlines set forth” by Florida law.

He argues without a recount, Caruso’s slim lead would not be reviewed, depriving Bonfilgio and the voters of “a full and fair election.”

To that end, his lawyers asked both that the recount in his race be initiated now and that Thursday’s deadline be extended for as long as needed to complete it.

“We always knew this race would be close,” Bonfiglio said, in a statement obtained by Florida Politics.

“What we’re fighting for now is the right of HD 89 voters’ to have their voices heard.”

House Minority Leader Kionne McGhee also released a statement backing Bonfiglio’s calls for a review of the process.

“Let me be clear: counting ballots should not be a partisan issue,” McGhee said.

“It should concern every Floridian that this deadline would overlook legal ballots. We are committed to ensuring that voting rights are protected and respected during this recount process.”

Palm Beach County is also forced to handle recounts in three statewide races in addition to the HD 89 contest. Two other races in the state legislature were in recount territory following Tuesday’s election.

Bonfiglio is represented by Fort Lauderdale attorney Jason Blank. who has some experience in litigating this year’s election.

Earlier this year, Blank filed a complaint over a Florida non-profit making a late push for Democratic Senate District 8 candidate Olysha Magruder.

He sought clarification on whether non-profit corporations can advocate for or against individual candidates without following the reporting guidelines of a political committee. The answer? No.

Caruso Bonfiglio

HD 89 contest headed to a recount

The open race for House District 89 is headed for a recount, as just over 100 votes separate the two candidates in the final tally with more than 77,000 votes cast.

Republican Mike Caruso finished with 50.08 percent of the vote. Democrat Jim Bonfiglio received 49.92 percent.

Florida law triggers a recount if the result of a race is within 0.5 percentage points.

Tuesday night was the culmination of what was, at times, an incredibly heated contest between the two.

Combative mailers were sent out by both sides during the general election. And Bonfiglio even went so far as to file an ethics complaint against Caruso over alleged campaign finance violations.

Caruso also faced questions over a pair of endorsements he listed in an email to supporters which were in dispute.

And Caruso earned a suspension from his HOA and tennis club for allegedly using the premises to conduct his campaign.

Still, Caruso fought hard in the fundraising race after getting through a tough primary battle with fellow Republican Matt Spritz. But Bonfiglio wasn’t afraid to spend his own money in the form of self-loans into his campaign.

Some signs pointed to Bonfiglio having a shot of flipping this seat for the Democrats.

An internal poll from early October had Bonfiglio ahead by 10 percentage points. And a September analysis of the contest showed a path by which Bonfiglio could come out on top.

HD 89 runs up the coast of Palm Beach County. This was a race for an open seat; outgoing GOP state Rep. Bill Hager is term-limited.

Recount-mania: Democrats on the hunt for votes

With multiple statewide races likely headed for a recount, the Florida Democratic Party (FDP) is all hands on deck attempting to track down volunteers to help with recount efforts.

Thursday is the deadline for those who cast provisional ballots to provide evidence that those ballots are valid. Voters who cast such ballots have until 5 p.m. two days following an election to verify their ballots.

As reported this morning, provisional ballots could make the difference in several races here in Florida.

As of 11:45 a.m. Thursday, the margin in the race for U.S. Senate now sits at just 0.26 percentage points, or 21,888 votes, while the Agriculture Commissioner contest has 0.05 percentage point margin, or 4,094 votes.

Races within a 0.5 percentage point margin trigger an automatic recount, with those inside 0.25 percentage points following a machine recount mandating a manual recount.

The race for Governor between Democrat Andrew Gillum and Republican Ron DeSantis is just outside recount range, with a 0.52 percentage point margin.

And at the state level, the contests in Senate District 18, House District 26, and House District 89 also appear to be in recount territory. And Democrats say they also have their eye on House Districts 105 and 115, both of which are currently outside the 0.5 percentage point range.

Now, the FDP is attempting to court volunteers to help reach out to voters who cast provisional ballots.

“Over the next few days a canvassing board of election judges in each county will determine whether those provisional ballots should be accepted,” read a release from the Miami-Dade Democratic Party.

“Volunteers are being asked to contact these voters by phone or by visiting their homes to sign affidavits that can help ensure their votes are counted.”

The Miami-Dade Dems are asking for help at their offices in Pinecrest, Aventura, Allapattah, Coral Gables, Hialeah, Sweetwater and Miami Gardens.

Nikki Fried, who is trailing by a sliver in the Ag. Commissioner race to Republican Matt Caldwell, is also sending out email blasts asking for volunteers. She’s included a link on her campaign website to help find those willing to donate their time.

After tonight’s deadline regarding provisional ballots, it will be up to respective canvassing board to certify the results.

HD 26, HD 89 recounts to decide final split in Florida House

Tuesday’s top-of-ticket results didn’t give Florida Democrats much reason to cheer, but incoming House Minority Leader Kionne McGhee says the party made decent inroads into the GOP’s intractable advantage in the state House.

The victories highlighted: Joy Goff-Marcil in HD 30, Geraldine Thompson in HD 44, Anna Eskamani in HD 47, Adam Hattersley in HD 59, Fentrice Driskell in HD 63, Jennifer Webb in HD 69, Delores Hogan Johnson in HD 84 and Cindy Polo in HD 103.

Eskamani, Hattersley, Webb, Johnson and Polo all won open seats previously controlled by the GOP, while Goff-Marcil reclaimed HD 30 from Republican Bob Cortes, Thompson knocked out Republican Robert “Bobby O” Olszewski just 13 months after he won the seat in a special election and Driskell cruised by Republican Shawn Harrison with a 6-point win.

“With nearly 10 new Democratic members in the Florida House of Representatives, this string of midterm victories, following this year’s special election wins, shows that voters are looking for leaders that reflect their values,” McGhee said. “This cycle, Florida House Democrats competed in 90 percent of Florida’s state House districts and made gains against the odds. I look forward to working alongside this new class of talented and diverse leaders in Tallahassee.”

While eight isn’t bad, eight is not “nearly 10.”

That estimation hinges on a pair of recounts going on in HD 26, the seat currently held by Democratic Rep. Patrick Henry and HD 89, the coastal Palm Beach County seat being vacated by term-limited GOP state Rep. Bill Hager. Republicans are up slightly in both contests.

Henry faced Republican challenger Elizabeth Fetterhoff in the general and with 61,038 ballots counted, she holds a 72-vote lead over the incumbent, a difference of just 0.12 percentage points.

Florida law triggers a recount if the result of a race is within 0.5 percentage points.

In HD 89, the two men vying to replace Hager, Republican accountant Mike Caruso and Ocean Ridge Democrat Jim Bonfiglio, were separated by 243 votes with 75,511 ballots counted. Percentage-wise, that split measures out to 0.32 percentage points, with Caruso leading 50.16 percent to Bonfiglio’s 49.84 percent.

Caruso Bonfiglio

Jim Bonfiglio laps Mike Caruso in fundraising — thanks to self-loan

Democrat legislative candidate Jim Bonfiglio heavily outraised his Republican opponent, Mike Caruso, in the latest fundraising period — largely thanks to an $80,000 loan made by Bonfiglio to his campaign.

The two are competing for the House District 89 seat, which covers coastal portions of Palm Beach County.

Caruso brought in more outside money than Bonfiglio Oct. 13-19, gathering just over $6,000 to Bonfiglio’s $4,750. But Bonfiglio dropped $80,000 of his own money to fund a big ad buy in the final week of the campaign.

Bonfiglio has trailed Caruso in outside donations in each reporting period throughout the general election. That’s now been rendered null.

Contributions to Bonfilgio mostly came from political committees, such as Floridians for Public Safety and the Florida Nurses Association.

His campaign also ate through nearly $90,000 in Oct. 13-19. That’s thanks to an $86,5000 advertising buy that was listed in this report. However, those ads will run during the final full week of the campaign.

Caruso was also heavily aided by outside groups, earning $1,000 donations from Florida Blue, Committee of Florida Agents, and the Florida Limousine Association.

The Republican spent nearly $44,000 during the period. Like Bonfiglio, almost all of that was spent on an ad buy, with just over $43,000 listed as media advertising with DMG & Associates.

Overall, the candidates retain just about the same amount of cash with just over a week to go. Caruso has a slight lead with just under $24,000, as compared with Bonfilgio at just over $20,000.

The contest should be a tight one. Republican state Rep. Bill Hager, who is term-limited, had some tough battles in past re-election bids.


HOA group endorses a score of state legislative candidates

A trade group representing a consortium of community association managers rolled out a list of 20 endorsements for non-incumbent candidates running for state House and state Senate seats.

The Chief Executive Officers of Management Companies represents more than 18,000 licensed, professional community association managers who manage more than 14,000 community associations.

“Dedicated to protecting the quality of life and affordable cost of living for six million Florida homeowners, Florida’s licensed Community Association Managers, and the 14,000 Associations who employ them, understand the importance and necessity of educating our legislators and those who seek to become legislators in Florida,” said CEOMC executive director and lobbyist Mark Anderson.

“With so many incumbents not returning to the legislature next year, we focused most of our attention on candidates running in ‘open’ seats throughout Tampa Bay, Orlando, and South Florida. On behalf of CEOMC, I’m pleased to offer our industry’s support for the following candidates.”

Four Senate candidates, all Republicans, got the nod: Former Clearwater Rep. Ed Hooper, who is running against former Democratic Rep. Amanda Murphy in SD 16; Sarasota Rep. Joe Gruters, who faces Democrat Faith Olivia Babis in SD 23; Hialeah Rep. Manny Diaz, who is being challenged by Democratic nominee David Perez, a former firefighter; and Marili Cancio, who is looking to oust first-term Democratic Sen. Annette Taddeo in SD 40.

The other 16 CEOMC endorsements went to state House candidates, including a dozen Republicans and four Democrats. A quintet of those endorsements went to candidates running in some of the most competitive House races of the 2018 cycle.

Those names include Orlando Democrat Anna Eskamani, who is looking to flip HD 47, the seat vacated due to Republican Rep. Mike Miller’s congressional bid; St. Petersburg Democrat Jennifer Webb earned CEOMC’s seal of approval in HD 69, currently held by exiting GOP Rep. Kathleen Peters; Ocean Ridge Democrat Jim Bonfiglio, who is seeking to succeed term-limited Republican Rep. Bill Hager in HD 89; Republican Chip LaMarca, a Broward County Commissioner running against Emma Collum in HD 93.

Miami Republican Anthony Rodriguez was the only House candidate who got CEOMC’s seal of approval over an incumbent lawmaker. Rodriguez is running against freshman Democratic Rep. Robert Asencio in HD 118.

The full list of CEOMC endorsed candidates:

— HD 28: Republican David Smith

— HD 32: Republican Anthony Sabatini

— HD 37: Republican Ardian Zika

— HD 47: Democrat Anna Eskamani

— HD 57: Republican Mike Beltran

— HD 59: Republican Joe Wicker

— HD 66: Republican Nick DiCeglie

— HD 69: Democrat Jennifer Webb

— HD 71: Republican Will Robinson

— HD 73: Republican Tommy Gregory

— HD 79: Republican Spencer Roach

— HD 89: Democrat Jim Bonfiglio

— HD 93: Republican Chip LaMarca

— HD 98: Democrat Michael Gottlieb

— HD 115: Republican Vance Aloupis

— HD 118: Republican Anthony Rodriguez

— SD 16: Former Republican Rep. Ed Hooper

— SD 23: Republican Rep. Joe Gruters

— SD 36: Republican Rep. Manny Diaz

— SD 40: Republican Marili Cancio

Caruso Bonfiglio

Mike Caruso outraises Jim Bonfiglio by $30K in latest period

Democratic candidate Jim Bonfiglio remains on top of the cash-on-hand contest in House District 89. But for the second straight reporting period, Republican Mike Caruso is closing that gap.

Bonfiglio actually spent more than he brought in from Sept. 15 to 28. His campaign earned $4,083 but spent $5,149. That leaves him with $74,712 to spend in the closing weeks of the campaign.

Caruso was well ahead of Bonfiglio in the latest reports, bringing in $34,045. He dropped $10,738 in the same period, giving Caruso $37,892 in cash, about half of Bonfiglio’s total.

Caruso has actually raised far more than Bonfiglio overall, but was forced to spend heavily in his primary contest against Matt Spritz. Bonfiglio was able to secure the Democratic nomination without heavy spending.

Many of Caruso’s donations this period came from various political committees such as Daniel Perez‘ Conservatives for a Better Florida, Florida HIV AIDS PAC, and Florida Beer Wholesalers Political Committee. The Republican Party of Florida also dropped $20,000 into the race.

The contest is expected to be close. Term-limited Republican state Rep. Bill Hager showed some vulnerability in previous elections. HD 89 covers coastal portions of Palm Beach County.

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