Kelly Skidmore hopes to return to the House with HD 81 battle against Michael Weinstein

Skidmore has the advantage in the left-leaning district.

Former Democratic Rep. Kelly Skidmore is looking for a chance to return to the state Legislature as she faces off against lawyer Michael Weinstein in House District 81.

The two are the only Democrats who qualified for the contest after Democratic Rep. Tina Polsky swapped races to Senate District 29.

Two Republicans — Saulis Banionis and Silmo Moura — have qualified as well. With Democrats owning a nearly 19-percentage point advantage over Republicans in voter registration in the district, the winner of the Skidmore-Weinstein contest is likely to prevail in the Nov. 3 general election.

Weinstein has drawn the ire of local Democrats at multiple points throughout the campaign.

Palm Beach County Tax Collector Anne Gannon accused Weinstein of lobbing sexist attacks at Skidmore. Gannon took Weinstein to task after he labeled Skidmore a “career politician,” despite Weinstein touting his own family’s legislative experience as a point of pride.

Weinstein’s father Peter was a former Florida Senate Majority Leader and later, the Chief Judge of Broward County. Weinstein’s grandfather Moses served as Speaker of the New York State Assembly.

Sen. Kevin Rader, whose district covers much of the same territory as HD 81, echoed Gannon’s criticism. Weinstein fired back, arguing the critiques stemmed from “political insiders and paid consultants.”

The Palm Beach County Police Benevolent Association (PBA) also revoked its endorsement of Weinstein, arguing he misrepresented his positions on regulating police departments.

Voters will now sort through those arguments in Tuesday’s primary. Early voting has already begun.

Skidmore and Weinstein both entered the race in late May, following Polsky’s decision to vacate the seat. HD 81 covers parts of Palm Beach County near Lake Okeechobee including Pahokee and Belle Glade.

Skidmore beat Weinstein in outside donations during the contest, adding nearly $89,000 between her campaign and political committee, Floridians for Early Education.

Weinstein raised just $64,000 in outside cash but also poured in $60,000 of his own money for $124,000 in total. Those numbers are current as of July 31.

Skidmore represented parts of Palm Beach County from 2006 to 2010. She also served as a staff member for former U.S. Rep. Ron Klein during his time in the state legislature.

Weinstein attended the University of Florida and earned his law degree at Nova Southeastern University. He launched his career with a job at the Broward County State Attorney’s Office, eventually becoming a prosecutor. Weinstein now runs his own criminal defense firm.

On the GOP side, Moura is a Boca Raton Republican who has nearly two decades of experience as a real estate agent. Banionis is a doctor who runs a private practice in Wellington. Both are first-time candidates.

Both have also added less than $5,000 to their respective campaigns.

Ryan Nicol

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to [email protected].


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