Democratic challenger in newly red south Palm Beach County district posts $80K in contributions
Image via Jay Shooster.

Jay Shooster
Lawyer Jay Shooster has $370K for bid to unseat Republican freshman Rep. Peggy Gosset-Seidman in HD 91.

A Democratic challenger trying to turn House District 91 blue raised more than $80,000 in the last quarter, lapping the incumbent’s fundraising.

Boca Raton lawyer Jay Shooster collected $84,355 in his bid to unseat freshman Republican Rep. Peggy Gossett-Seidman of Highland Beach for the period that ended Sept. 30. She added $12,500 in the same time frame.

Shooster is attempting to retake the south Palm Beach County House district that flipped into the Republicans’ column in 2022.

Shooster has added more than $370,000 to his campaign overall. That includes donations to his personal campaign account and his political committee, Future Leaders Florida, as well as the $25,000 he loaned his campaign. After expenditures, he now has more than $350,000 for his bid to represent the district that covers Boca Raton and Highland Beach.

“I am deeply grateful for the overwhelming support I’ve received since launching my campaign,” Shooster said. “It’s heartening to see our vision of creating a Tallahassee that works for everyone striking a chord with the voters in Palm Beach County.”

Gossett-Seidman, meanwhile, has a total of $27,500 between her personal account and her political committee, Peggy for the People. Her spending, so far, has been negligible.

She said that she’ll concentrate on raising money after the Session is over.

“My job is to get ready for Session and get my bills in order,” Gossett-Seidman said. “Money is not my focus right now.”

In 2022, this race was Palm Beach County’s most expensive House race, touched off when Rep. Emily Slosberg-King announced she was retiring. Gossett-Seidman loaned her campaign $200,000 and raised $112,495. Her Democratic competitor, Boca Raton Councilman Andy Thomson, raised $424,297 and loaned his campaign $30,000.

Gossett-Seidman’s ensuing victory was one of a number of wins the red team scored in Palm Beach County. County Commission contests yielded a majority Republican Commission in the Democratic stronghold. The majority of county voters also backed Gov. Ron DeSantis, propelling his historic statewide win, even though registered Democrats outnumber Republicans here.

The Democrats’ Palm Beach County registration advantage has continued to erode since 2022, but Shooster says that he’s encountering a receptive audience for his message. “Each day, I engage in meaningful conversations with individuals who share real concerns about kitchen table issues like inflation, property insurance rates and women’s rights,” he said.

It looks like Shooster is on track to surpass Thomson’s fundraising, at least. This past quarter, he collected 255 donations, ranging from $1 to $5,000.

Contributors to Shooster’s political committee show that he’s drawing support from throughout the country. The largest donations to his campaign this period — two, $5,000 checks — came from Michelle McSwain, a Los Angeles-based photographer, and Chris Painter, working in tech in San Francisco.

San Francisco physicist Charles Riedel II gave Shooster’s political committee $4,000. So did Harley Monk of Jersey City, New Jersey, the Chief of Staff at Kinetic Brands in New York City. Samuel Schreiner, a Pittsburgh software engineer, also gave $4,000. Ben Hirsh, a Brooklyn, New York, software engineer, gave Shooster’s campaign $1,300. Gary Sambol of Wilton Manors investment executive, kicked $1,000 into his political committee.

Shooster’s personal campaign received 38 donations that hit the maximum $1,000 allowed. The real estate sector, usually prominent on most pols’ donor lists, has no representatives among Shooster’s contributors for this past reporting period. Instead, it is populated with lawyers, scientists and high-tech representatives.

Donors giving the maximum included Fort Lauderdale-based Problem Solving PAC, Miami-based Florida Leadership Council PC, and Friends of Lori Berman, the committee of the Democratic Palm Beach Senator. Other notable names among Shoosters’ donors are Friends of Ben Diamond, the former Pinellas County Democratic Representative’s political committee, which gave $250; and former Democratic Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, who is now running for Senate.

Shooster’s expenses show he’s working with Renaissance Campaign Strategies, based in Tampa, spending $5,000 with them over the last quarter.

The $9,500 that Gossett-Seidman collected for her personal account also has some notable names. Ron Book, the influential lobbyist based in South Florida, gave her $1,000, as did Friends of Jennifer Canady, the Lakeland Republican Representative’s political committee.

Gossett-Seidman also received $1,000 donations from political committees representing a various interests, including America First PC, based in Tallahassee; Create Every Opportunity, based in Tallahassee; Florida Natural Gas Political Committee, based in Tallahassee; Florida Conservative Federation, a Tallahassee-based political committee; Florida Born and Raised political committee based in Tallahassee; and two real estate companies, Atlanticblue Capital LLC in Lake Wales and Cassidy Holdings Group Inc., in Winter Haven.

Her political committee received two $1,000 donations from firefighter political committees.

The campaigns were facing a deadline this week to report all third-quarter campaign financial transactions.

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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