Richard Ryles pours in $100K of his own cash to battle Bobby Powell in PBC Commissioner race

Ryles powell
Real estate interests gave the Senator a boost for a third-quarter haul of more than $50K.

Lawyer Richard Ryles’ campaign account is about $33,000 fatter than his rival Bobby Powell’s in the Democratic Primary race to represent District 7 on the Palm Beach County Commission.

But that’s because the former West Palm Beach Commissioner wrote his campaign a $100,000 check during this quarter.

The two Democrats are in a contest to fill the open seat representing the Black-majority district. Its current occupant, Commissioner Mack Bernard, is term-limited in the role. The district includes either all or parts of Briny Breezes, Delray Beach, Gulf Stream, Hypoluxo, Lantana, Mangonia Park, Palm Beach, Palm Beach Shores, Riviera Beach, South Palm Beach and West Palm Beach.

Technically, Powell’s term representing Senate District 24 is not up until 2026. But he is expected to resign from his Senate seat when qualifying comes along in May.

Ryles’ grassroots fundraising and Powell’s Tallahassee connections come through in the third quarter reports.

Ryles, who served a year on the West Palm Beach City Commission after winning a 2019 Special Election, received 45 donations this quarter, reports show. Excluding his $100,000 donation to his campaign, just two of Ryles’ 44 contributions hit the maximum $1,000 level. Those came from Rybovich Boat Company in West Palm Beach and M/Y Café LLC in West Palm Beach.

Democratic candidate for Sheriff Alexander Freeman gave $450. Shirley Kinsey, a Pacific Palisades, California, art collector, gave $750 and her business gave another $750.

After spending $2,755 this quarter — $2,000 on video production — Ryles has about $147,000 to spend on his campaign. Ryles won election to the West Palm Beach City Commission during a 2019 Special Election, defeating Christy Fox. But Ryles missed a filing deadline later that year ahead of the 2020 contest. Fox was the winner in 2020 by default and still serves on the City Commission.

In contrast to Ryles’ contributors, 47 of Powell’s 67 contributors in the third quarter hit the maximum level.

Notable names on Powell’s contributor list giving the maximum in the latest report include Senate Democratic Leader-designate Jason Pizzo and Palm Beach Town Councilmember Lew Crampton. Former Republican Senate President Jeff Atwater gave $500. Palm Beach County School Board member Marcia Andrews gave $100.

Real estate and land development accounted for $15,750 in donations, the largest single sector represented among his donors, and agriculture interests kicked in $8,000.

The political committees donating the maximum to Powell this quarter were the Latino Alliance in Tallahassee; the Florida Accountability Project in Tallahassee, which shows a grab bag of donors including the sugar and energy industries; Friends of Landscape Architecture in Tallahassee; Firefighter FACTPAC in West Palm Beach; Palm Beach County Benevolent Association in West Palm Beach; and AT&T Florida PAC in Tallahassee.

After expenses, processing and bank fees, Powell had $113,000 in his personal campaign chest as of Sept. 30. A political committee for Powell was not listed.

The two candidates will face off on Primary Election Day Aug. 20, 2024.

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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