Democrats could grab 6-1 advantage on Palm Beach County commission

Boca Raton City Councilman Bob Weinroth (left) chats with Palm Beach County Commissioner Dave Kerner in Tallahassee in January. Democrat Weinroth is well-positioned to join Kerner on the commission.(George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Democrats are well-positioned to claim a 6-1 advantage on the Palm Beach County commission after Republicans failed to field candidates for two seats and were left with only a political unknown to run in a seat the GOP has held for more than a quarter century.

Democrats hold five of seven commission seats now.

As the candidate filing deadline passed at noon Friday, no Republican filed in commission District 2 or District 6 — seats that are already held by Democrats and where Democrats have strong registration advantages.

In Republican-held District 4, which includes coastal Delray Beach and Boca Raton, the only GOP candidate to file was William “Billy” Vale, who through May 31 had raised a mere $5,522 for his campaign. Boca Raton City Councilman Robert Weinroth, a Democrat, opened a campaign for the District 4 seat earlier this year and had raised more than $112,000 by the end of May.

District 4 is divided nearly evenly between Republican and Democratic voters and has elected only Republicans — Mary McCarty and Steven Abrams — since the commission went to a district-by-district election format in 1990.

Palm Beach County Commission District 4 includes southern coastal communities and all of Boca Raton.

With Abrams facing term limits this year, many expected former Boca Raton Mayor Susan Haynie to keep the seat in GOP hands. But Haynie withdrew from the race after being charged with official misconduct in April.

County GOP Chairman Michael Barnett announced plans to run for the seat, as did former Delray Beach City Commissioner Christina Morrison. Barnett backed out last week and Morrison, after holding a campaign kickoff event Wednesday, said Friday she concluded she couldn’t win.

“I just didn’t see a clear path to victory. I got in way too late,” Morrison said.

Barnett said it’s too soon to write off the seat.

“There will be a race,” Barnett said. Asked about Vale, the party chairman said, “I don’t know much about him. I’d like to talk to him, like to meet him.”

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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