Priscilla Taylor quits congressional race, faces fight to keep commission seat

Democratic Palm Beach County Commissioner Priscilla Taylor at her congressional campaign kickoff event last year.
Democratic Palm Beach County Commissioner Priscilla Taylor at her congressional campaign kickoff event last year.

Palm Beach County Commissioner Priscilla Taylor is dropping her Democratic bid for Congress and will instead seek re-election to her commission seat.

But Taylor, who said she couldn’t raise enough money to compete with her congressional rivals, now appears headed toward an expensive race to remain on the commission. Three other Democrats have opened well-financed campaigns for Taylor’s District 7 commission seat since she announced her congressional bid last March.

At least two of the commission hopefuls — former state Rep. Mack Bernard and Haverhill Councilman Lawrence Gordon — plan to stay in the commission race against Taylor. A third, Riviera Beach Police Chief Clarence Williams, couldn’t be reached late Wednesday. Bernard has raised more than $105,000 for the commission race while Gordon has collected more than $80,000 and Williams more than $72,000.

Taylor was one of four Democrats and nine Republicans running to replace Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, who is leaving the Palm Beach-Treasure Coast District 18 seat to run for Senate.

The Democratic race became costlier in November when millionaire businessman Randy Perkins announced his candidacy and put $1 million of his own money into his campaign.

Perkins also raised $427,500 from contributors through Dec. 31.

Another Democrat in the District 18 congressional race, attorney Jonathan Chane, has raised $304,750 and added $100,000 of his own money.

Taylor raised only $160,294 through Dec. 31.

“Unfortunately, it has become increasingly clear to me that we will not be able to raise the funds necessary to run a successful congressional campaign,” Taylor said in an email to her supporters Wednesday.

“The truth is, these types of elections are driven more by who raises the most money than by who has the most qualifications or experience,” Taylor said.

Taylor said she decided to seek another commission term after getting “numerous calls from people in our community asking me to reconsider running for re-election to the county commission. I’ve heard you loud and clear.”

Taylor is the second commissioner to bail out of the District 18 race because of fundraising concerns. Commissioner Melissa McKinlay was also running in the Democratic primary, but withdrew in November shortly after Perkins got in.

Taylor’s decision to bow out of the congressional race continues a 40-year losing streak for Palm Beach County commissioners trying to make the leap to Congress.  Commissioners Robert Culpepper (1976), Dennis Koehler (1984), Ken Adams(1990), Dorothy Wilken (1990) and Carol Roberts (2002) all failed in their congressional bids before McKinlay and Taylor gave up on their 2016 campaigns.

Author: George Bennett

George Bennett has been a Palm Beach Post reporter since 1992. He grew up in Bethesda, Md. and is a graduate of The George Washington University. Follow him on Twitter @gbennettpost

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