Kelly Skidmore set to return to the House after winning HD 81 Democratic primary

Skidmore will likely replace Rep. Tina Polsky, who left to pursue a Senate seat.

Former Democratic Rep. Kelly Skidmore will likely return to the House in the fall after winning the Democratic nomination in House District 81.

Skidmore defeated lawyer Michael Weinstein.

While Palm Beach County is still tallying votes, Skidmore leads 52%-48%.

“I would like to thank the voters of Palm Beach County for believing in my candidacy and responding to my vision for our community and our state,” Skidmore said following the win.

“To say that I am pleased with the results of yesterday’s election would be an understatement.  I congratulate my opponent on a well-run race and pledge to work hard to earn the votes of his supporters in the months leading up to November’s General Election.”

Two Republicans — Saulis Banionis and Silmo Moura — qualified for the contest as well. Banionis currently leads Moura 61%-39%.

With Democrats owning a nearly 19-percentage point advantage over Republicans in voter registration in the district, Skidmore is likely to prevail in the Nov. 3 general election.

Weinstein drew 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 Weinstein, was a former Florida Senate Majority Leader and later, the Chief Judge of Broward County. Weinstein’s grandfather, Moses Weinstein, 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 for Weinstein, arguing he misrepresented his positions on regulating police departments.

Skidmore and Weinstein both entered the race in late May, following Rep. Tina Polsky‘s decision to vacate the seat in pursuit of the Senate. 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 $123,000 between her campaign and political committee, Floridians for Early Education.

Weinstein raised just under $66,000 in outside cash but also poured in $60,000 of his own money for $126,000 in total.

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, both candidates added less than $6,000 to their respective campaigns. 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 were first-time candidates.

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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