Boca brouhaha? Weinroth eyes same county commission race as ally Haynie

Boca Raton City Councilman Bob Weinroth (left) chats with Palm Beach County Commissioner Dave Kerner in Tallahassee on Tuesday night. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

TALLAHASSEE — Boca Raton City Councilman Bob Weinroth said Tuesday night he won’t seek re-election and instead plans to launch a Democratic bid for the same Palm Beach County commission seat that Mayor and erstwhile political ally Susan Haynie is running for as a Republican.

Weinroth said he’ll allow today’s candidate qualifying deadline to pass in Boca Raton without filing for another term on the city council. He said he tentatively plans to open a county commission campaign on Thursday.

Haynie, amid speculation she might abandon her county commission campaign, said Tuesday night she’s committed to the race and has no plans to drop out. She appears to have drawn the attention of at least two investigative bodies — the Palm Beach County Commission on Ethics and the Florida Commission on Ethics — over ties to Boca developer James Batmasian that were first reported by The Palm Beach Post in November.

Weinroth and Haynie, who have been allies in Boca Raton, attended the same reception in Tallahassee Tuesday night to mark the beginning of the legislative session. Many county and municipal officials are in town for Palm Beach County Day, when locals visit the Capitol to lobby lawmakers on a variety of issues.

So far, Haynie is the only candidate who has filed for the southeastern Palm Beach County Commission District 4 seat, which is now held by term-limited Commissioner Steven Abrams.


Boca Raton mayor weighs GOP bid in district where Clinton beat Trump

Boca Raton Mayor Susan Haynie with Gov. Rick Scott in 2016. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Boca Raton Mayor Susan Haynie appears close to launching a 2018 Republican campaign for the coastal District 4 seat of term-limited Palm Beach County Commissioner Steven Abrams.

“I am considering it and I will be making my decision shortly,” Haynie told PostOnPolitics. She later said “shortly” means within the next 30 to 60 days.

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

Abrams is one of only two Republicans on the seven-member commission.

District 4 is 35 percent Republican and 34.4 percent Democrat. Democrat Hillary Clinton carried the district with 49.9 percent of the vote to 46.2 percent for Republican Donald Trump last November.

In 2014, Democrat Charlie Crist beat Republican Gov. Rick Scott in District 4 by a 50.2-to-45.7 percent margin.

But in a county race, Haynie’s Boca connection could be more important than partisan factors.

She has held nonpartisan office for 15 of the last 17 years in Boca Raton, which makes up 44 percent of the electorate in County Commission District 4. Abrams was also a Boca Raton mayor before being appointed to the commission in 2009, then winning elections in 2010 and 2014.

The open seat in a midterm election year — when the party out of the White House typically makes gains — should draw some Democratic interest.

Democrat Andy Thomson, an attorney who lost a March bid for Boca Raton city council, is one potential candidate for the county commission seat. But Thomson says he’s also looking at another council bid in Boca.

“We’re working on it,” Democratic Club of Boca-Delray board member Mark Alan Siegel said of his party’s efforts to recruit a commission candidate.