Republican dominance in Palm Beach County continues with win in HD 91

peggy_gossett-seidman_andy_thomson
No other race for Palm Beach County legislative seats drew as much money as this one in the county's south end.

For the first time in memory, South Palm Beach County — long a Democratic stronghold — will be represented by a Republican.

Republican Peggy Gossett-Seidman, a twice-elected Highland Beach Town Commissioner, was able to overcome a fundraising deficit and best twice-elected Boca Raton Councilman Andy Thomson to represent House District 91 in Tallahassee.

Unofficial results showed Gossett-Seidman defeating Thomson 52%-48%.

Their contest for the open seat was the most expensive legislative General Election race in Palm Beach County, touched off when Democrat Rep. Emily Slosberg-King announced she was retiring.

The newly drawn district, covering Boca Raton, Highland Beach and parts of west Boca, became a decidedly lighter shade of blue in the decennial legislative redistricting process this year. Gossett-Seidman, a writer and journalist by trade, appeared to be the underdog in this race. The district went for President Joe Biden by nearly 5 points in 2020, according to Matt Isbell, an elections data expert with MCI Maps.

On Facebook, Gossett-Seidman celebrated.

“Our Team crafted a solid game plan to capture the spirit and votes of the great people of District 91,” she wrote, underneath a photo of the victory party at her house. “I am grateful for everyone’s support!”

Later, she said, “For the amount of work we put in, I hoped it (winning) would be the outcome.”

Thomson, a lawyer, had drawn higher-profile endorsements and collected much more in outside donations. Gossett-Seidman raised $112,495 from outside sources, in addition to the $200,000 she loaned her campaign. Thomson, meanwhile, raised $424,297 between his campaign and his political committee, Running with Andy Thompson. He also loaned his campaign $30,000.

In an email to supporters Wednesday, he called elected service, “the honor of my life.”

“While I am disappointed with the results last night, I am encouraged by the enthusiasm I have seen across District 91 for the issues that unite us,” said Thomson, who did not identify himself as a Democrat in his TV spot. “I am proud of the campaign we ran and am extremely grateful for all the support I have received during this experience.”

Republicans invested heavily in making this advance into blue Palm Beach.

The Florida House Republican Campaign Committee (FHRCC), donated $49,000 to her campaign and gave another $74,710 in kind support. The Republican Party of Florida contributed $28,750 in in-kind support as well.

Gossett-Seidman received the endorsements of incoming House Speaker Paul Renner; Attorney General Ashley Moody; Republican Reps. Jessica Baker, Mike Caruso, Randy Fine, Chip LaMarca and Rick Roth; Wellington Mayor Anne Gerwig; Royal Palm Beach Councilman Jeff Hmara; Lake Park Commissioner John Linden; Riviera Beach Councilwoman Julie Botel; Highland Beach Mayor Doug Hillman; Highland Beach Vice Mayor Natasha Moore; and Highland Beach Commissioners John Shoemaker and Evalyn David.

“Tonight, was a resounding affirmation of conservative leadership. Florida House Republicans, under the stewardship of Speaker-designate Renner, now has 85 Republicans, giving House Republicans a significant majority,” said Rep. Daniel Perez, who is in line to be House Speaker during the 2024-26 term.

“Voters unequivocally declared that Florida is moving in the right direction under Republican governance § toward economic liberty, equality of opportunity, defense of life and protection of the unborn, and conservative ideals that advance and protect Floridians’ freedoms. I look forward to working with re-elected Governor Ron DeSantis and Speaker-designate Renner, as well as Florida Senate President-designate Kathleen Passidomo, as we enact policies that will make our state flourish.”

Gossett-Seidman also has received support from state organizations such as the Florida Electric Cooperatives Association, Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Florida Justice Reform, Florida Osteopathic Medical Association, Forward Action Fund, Med PAC and the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

Thomson received endorsements from The Palm Beach Post, the Sun-Sentinel, first responders unions in Boca Raton and Palm Beach County, the police union, the Florida and Boca Raton Chambers of Commerce, the Associated Industries of Florida, the BizPac of Palm Beach County, the Economic Council of Palm Beach County, Florida Realtors, Florida Education Association, Service Employee International Union, AFL-CIO Florida.

The Moms Demand Action Gun Sense Candidate program has designated him as a candidate who will govern with gun safety in mind. And Ban Assault Weapons Now has also endorsed Thomson.

He also has a raft of local politicians’ endorsements, including Slosberg-King; Democratic Sens. Lori Berman, Shevrin Jones and Tina Polsky; Democratic Reps. Joe Casello and Jervonte “Tae” Edmonds; State Attorney David Aronberg; Palm Beach County Mayor Robert Weinroth; Palm Beach County Tax Collector Anne Gannon; and Palm Beach County Clerk & Comptroller Joe Abruzzo.

The Democratic nominee to represent Florida’s 23rd Congressional District, Jared Moskowitz, also endorsed Thomson, along with Palm Beach County Commissioners Mack Bernard and Melissa McKinlay and Palm Beach County School Board Chairman Frank Barbieri.

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]



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