Mike Caruso faces a political newcomer in his bid for re-election
Can a political newcomer topple a three-term lawmaker?

caruso osta
The two-term Republican Representative's bid for re-election in coastal Palm Beach County has raised significantly more cash than his Democratic challenger.

Republican Rep. Mike Caruso’s bid for a third term in new territory has him facing a challenge from his Left, after beating back one from his Right in the Primary.

Caruso, a certified public accountant, is facing Democrat Sienna Osta, a West Palm Beach lawyer, who is on the hunt for her first elected office in House District 87, which covers coastal Palm Beach County.

Caruso bills himself as a “commonsense Republican” but his opponent takes issue with his voting record that supported Gov. Ron DeSantis “culture war” agenda, particularly the 15-week ban on abortion (HB 5) without exceptions for rape and incest and the Parental Rights in Education Law (HB 1557) that more closely regulates schoolhouse discussions of LGBTQ issues.

“I would like to protect and fight for women’s rights to choose their health care and fight for the rights of the LBGTQ community,” she said, citing George Floyd’s death and the ensuing protests as awakening a desire to bring “passion and righteousness” to the halls of government.

The Lebanese American lost in the 2020 Primary against Rep. Omari Hardy in House District 88 and now she’s running in HD 87, a coastal district to the immediate north and east. The newly drawn district stretches from Juno Beach to Lake Worth Beach. Redistricting lines changed just enough that now she’s in this newly drawn district, she said.

Caruso recently moved to the district after the redistricting process redrew the boundaries surrounding his longtime Delray Beach home. With redrawn boundaries, his former home’s district became bluer and included incumbent Democratic Rep. Joe Casello, prompting the swap.

In the Primary, Caruso beat back the accusation that he wasn’t conservative enough. Campaign reports show Caruso has drawn financial support that dwarfs Osta’s.

He raised a total of $218,000 this cycle and spent $154,000. Osta, meanwhile, added $7,755, including a $1,852 loan to her campaign. She’s spent $3,284.

Between Aug. 27 and Oct. 7, Caruso raised more than $34,000 in cash. Political committees representing health care, police, fire, liquor distributors, and health care are supporting him. And he also received a $1,000 donation from the Friends of Randy Fine, a PC belonging to a controversial Republican lawmaker in Brevard County.

He’s also got about $24,000 in support from the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) in the form of staff help and polling in this period, bringing his total in-kind support from the RPOF to $58,000.

Between Aug. 27 and Oct. 7, Osta raised $2,582 from six people. She spent $1,035, chiefly for a $985 advertisement in Seabreeze Publications, based in Jupiter.

Caruso, in contrast, has spent more than $34,000 in that same time, including advertising with Seabreeze Publications. He spent nearly three times what Osta did with that firm: $2,772.

Caruso’s biggest bill during this period hit $15,000 for campaign signs and printing with Mark Graphics in Boca Raton. His expenditures also show he paid people for “campaign outreach” that totaled more than $8,000. Caruso seems to have boots on the ground; he reports gassing up volunteers’ cars 34 times, costing the campaign $1,859. Campaign consulting and data from SimWins in Tampa cost the campaign about $2,000.

And Caruso’s advertising in The Coastal Star, a newspaper in Ocean Ridge, totaled $1,184.

In addition to endorsements from Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and a host of other groups — such as the Palm Beach Log Cabin Republicans, Palm Beach County Medical Society and the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce — Caruso has been endorsed by The Palm Beach Post.

Osta, meanwhile, received endorsements from the Sun-Sentinel and Democratic Sens. Lori Berman and Tina Polsky. She also received the nod of the Democratic Environmental Caucus of Florida, The Democratic Women’s Caucus of Florida and the Democratic Veterans Caucus of Florida.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].

One comment

  • District 87 Voter

    November 5, 2022 at 8:04 am

    Did you confirm Mike Caruso’s new residential address within the district? That’s not what property records reflect. The voters, who really do live in the district, have a right to know if he really relocated. And as for Osta, her residential address has been kept confidential from the voter records. What proof did she privide that she lives in the District? You are the only reporter on this beat, and we rely on you. Please let the readers fall prey to accepting as true whatever falls from these politician’s lips.

Comments are closed.


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