Republican Trump critic Kurt Jetta quits congressional race, promises donor refunds

Republican Kurt Jetta has ended his campaign for the seat of Democratic U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel.

Delray Beach businessman Kurt Jetta faced a pair of difficult tasks in his 2018 campaign for Congress — winning a Republican nomination as a critic of President Donald Trump, then unseating Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, in a heavily Democratic district.

Jetta has reached the conclusion it can’t be done.

“I could keep grinding away in some hope of a breakthrough, but the odds of success are low and the opportunity cost of me not attending to my company, TABS Analytics, is high,” Jetta said in a recent email to supporters announcing he’s ending his campaign.

Jetta put $250,000 of his own money into the campaign and said he received $114,000 in contributions. He pledged to give refunds to his donors.

“You did not invest in this campaign to see me quit so early in the process, so I will be putting in enough money to the campaign account so that you will receive your donation back by the end of the year,” Jetta told supporters. “While I don’t regret taking a run at this office, I am very disappointed that it will end like this, and I’m sorry to disappoint you, as well. Going forward, I will be dedicating my public service efforts to organizations that are addressing the opioid epidemic, the issue that propelled me into this campaign in the first place.”

Republican Derek A. Schwartz remains in the District 21 race. Frankel, first elected in 2012, won a third term in 2016 with 62.7 percent over Republican Paul Spain.

Republican Jetta slams Democrat Frankel on opioid response

In a new digital ad, Republican congressional candidate Kurt Jetta accuses Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, of failing to lead on the opioid crisis.

UPDATED with response from Frankel’s campaign

Republican congressional candidate Kurt Jetta is making the opioid crisis a centerpiece of his campaign for the Palm Beach County-based U.S. House seat of Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach.

In the first digital ad of his campaign, Jetta says the Democratic incumbent isn’t making the opioid problem enough of a priority. The ad is aimed at Facebook and Google accounts within Frankel’s District 21.

“Lois Frankel has failed to lead on the opioid crisis — both in Palm Beach County and nationally. Look at her website — the top 13 issues that she’s laid out, the opioid crisis doesn’t make the list. On my list, it’s the number one issue for Palm Beach County,” Jetta says in the new ad.

As of today, the “issues” page on Frankel’s official House website doesn’t mention the opioids crisis.

Frankel’s campaign responded: “Rep. Frankel’s attention to the seriousness of opioid addiction is well known and has been frequently reported in local news and posted on her Facebook page.”

That includes working with the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Department of Justice to clarify local governments’ ability to regulate sober homes, serving on the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force and cosponsoring the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016.

Expect to hear more about the issue.

“We have polling that makes it clear the opioids are the number one issue in our district,” said Jetta consultant Jacob Perry.

Delray Beach resident Jetta opened a campaign last month. He’s founder and CEO of of TABS Analytics, a Connecticut-based data firm that advises companies who sell consumer packaged goods. Frankel, serving her third term in Congress, is a former West Palm Beach mayor and state House member.

How will Reps. Mast, Frankel, Deutch and Hastings spend $2.4 million in campaign cash?

Palm Beach County’s U.S. House delegation for the 115th Congress, clockwise from top left: Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City; Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Delray Beach; Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton; Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach.

The four members of Palm Beach County’s U.S. House delegation began October with a combined $2.4 million to spend on their 2018 re-election campaigns, according to Federal Election Commission reports filed over the weekend.

The busiest fundraiser — and spender — is freshman Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City. Click here for the details on Mast’s seven-figure fundraising and where his campaign money is going.

• Mast had $921,256 in cash on hand as of Sept. 30.

• Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, has $981,976 in the bank.

• Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, has $290,394 on hand.

• Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Delray Beach, has $252,063.