Tracy Caruso: The Boca Swamp, Lies, and Incompetence Lost Big on Election Day
What the heck happened in Palm Beach County on November 8th? No one was more surprised than the people in blue Palm Beach County. The big red wave throughout the country never occurred, but we did have a wave in Florida.
The three races with the most surprising outcomes were two county commission seats and one state house seat; all three losing campaigns were run by Rick Asnani of Cornerstone Solutions. Now, a few days later, we have all sorts of articles speculating about how three Republicans who were considered underdogs beat three very well-funded Dems who had all of the big endorsements.
A local newspaper, The Coastal Star, published an article stating what many think. The Palm Beach County seats were won mainly due to candidates riding Governor Ron DeSantis’ coattails.
Is this true? To an extent, it is true. Voters are happy with how things are going in the free state of Florida. Voters love DeSantis. Many just voted a straight R ticket. But there’s more to it.
Based on the coattails theory, why didn’t every Republican win in PBC? Most of the candidates who won were Democrats. So what happened? We know that some Democrats couldn’t get excited about Charlie Crist, so they didn’t vote.
Some choice comments in The Coastal Star came from campaign consultant Asnani, who worked on Andy Thomson’s state house race, Robert Weinroth’s county commission race, and Michelle McGovern’s county commission race. According to Asnani, money spent, endorsements, and experience didn’t matter; all that mattered was whether you had a D or an R next to your name. Well, Rick Asnani, I’m calling bullshit.
Sara Baxter beat Michelle McGovern for County Commission District 6 by five points. Five points! That’s a solid win. Many had heard that McGovern wasn’t great when you heard her live. Maybe the combination of the DeSantis effect, bad consulting and messaging, and the fact that McGovern wasn’t spectacular made voters say, screw it, I’m going for the other one. The COVID years stank, so maybe it’s worth seeing what happens with the R.
Now Robert Weinroth. Weinroth did lose to someone inexperienced, but maybe an earnest newcomer without an ounce of artifice is what we need.
Woodward is new, but she’ll learn. There isn’t a person who has ever gotten into office who didn’t have to learn on the job. I don’t know Marci Woodward well, but she won, and I’m rooting for her. She may surprise everyone and turn out to be great. Time will tell. But this race illustrated that voters are sick and tired of Weinroth’s crap.
Let’s talk about the dirty little not-so-secret secret that’s been going on in Palm Beach County forever. The county commission, in particular, has been loaded for years with Democratic elected officials who claim to really be Republicans. Some of the time, it’s true, and some of the time, it’s not. Either way, I think this is such an unfair thing to do to voters. People don’t have much to go on when they vote. Party is the main thing when voters decide, so by doing this, let’s pretend bit, you’re lying to the voters and robbing them of the opportunity to vote for their values.
Weinroth isn’t the only person who tried to straddle the fence and get support from everyone. Andy Thomson ran against Peggy Gossett-Seidman for a newly districted State House seat that covers a good deal of Boca Raton and Highland Beach. The Thomson/Gossett-Seidman outcome wasn’t much of a surprise to anyone other than Thomson, the Boca swamp, and the consultants who worked for him. Thomson is a Democrat, which is a good part of what he got pounded with during his campaign. Thomson tried as hard as he could to hide he was a Democrat. The two candidates had the same level of political and professional experience, and they were both well-funded. Gossett-Seidman had a message that resonated with voters, and her campaign was better than Thomson’s.
Political consultant Rick Asnani badly misread the partisan climate we’re in now. He targeted the wrong people with their campaign materials. The messaging was off, and it was weak. He tried to distance his candidates from the party they belonged to and make them appear as though “they aren’t really like that” when they were exactly like that.
Asnani can call every newspaper there is, but his clients are the ones who lost. I’ve never seen anyone make so much money for so many losses.
People are sick of being lied to. Former secretary of The Palm Beach County Democratic Party, Diana Demarest, says:
“No one I know in the Palm Beach County Democratic Party ever believed Weinroth was a “real” Democrat. He just played one on the dais.”
Ouch. On the other side, many Republicans didn’t believe that Weinroth was a Republican either. Many have talked about Weinroth’s anti-gun stance, for example. So that made the question are you a Democrat who is actually a Republican, or are you a Democrat pretending to be a Republican? Who is really a Democrat? Confused yet? So was everyone else, so when given the choice of voting for Weinroth, a maybe Republican, and Woodward, an actual, registered Republican, they chose her.
For years, Thomson has also been doing this “I’m really a Republican” story. The swamp that spawned him taught him well. His story spirals down into the downright shameful. Thomson has been telling people for years that he’s a Republican, but he can’t register as one because it would upset his father too much. Andy, you’re forty.
If Democrats couldn’t win this election by being Democrats, how do you explain County Commissioner Gregg Weiss’s re-election? How do you explain any of the Democrat wins?
The historic part of these Palm Beach elections was that the phony party lie was exposed, and the voters weren’t going for it again.
This election was a massive win for all of us.
Full Disclosure: I asked Seidman to run and supported her campaign.
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