Rep. Kevin Rader, House District 81, D-Delray Beach.
Education: Bachelor’s degree, business administration, Boston University.
Family: Married, four children.
Work: Insurance agent.
When and where did you first arrive in Florida? Came to Florida in 1971 from Detroit.
First job and what you learned from it: Eckerd’s. I was a cashier. I guess you learn that hard work pays off and you get a paycheck. It’s your money and you can do what you want with it.
First political job and what you learned from it: My mom was very politically active growing up. She worked on many campaigns. She bragged that I was in a stroller when she was doing McGovern as a precinct captain. She was always politically active. We argued issues, a typical Jewish family, fairly liberal, around the dinner table or just around the couches. You learn it and hear it and grow up with it. Then you form your own opinions. I just got very attracted to the Democratic Party because of my family’s influence. I greatly believe that government’s about helping people. My first paid political job was as a full-time employee on the Clinton-Gore campaign in 1992 in Michigan. I also worked on the inaugural.
Best political advice you ever received: I’ve heard it many times and I kind of live my life like this. I’m very straight-forward and honest. It’s very difficult for me to put lipstick on a pig. I do it in my business. I do it in my personal life. No one can ever say I mince words or I try to fudge the truth. I don’t lie. I don’t fudge. When people ask me what I think, I say do what makes you feel good when you go to sleep at night. When your head goes on the pillow, you feel like you did the right thing. That’s kind of the motto I live by. I should frame that.
Best book on politics you ever read: “My Life” by Golda Meir.
Your wife is a rabbi. What’s do you think about Christian prayers offered before committees or on the floor? In 2006, my wife was invited to lead the prayer in the U.S. Congress. When you do that, you have certain restrictions on what you can and can’t say, certain words you can and can’t use. It’s a government building. You can pray in a government building without using certain words that are offensive to other religions. When I was here four years ago I spoke about it to Republican leadership. They didn’t want to do anything about it. I spoke to Republican leadership last week on this … There are many different ways you can use prayer and use words. Why would you want to do something that would be offensive to your fellow members, your fellow colleagues? Unfortunately, it is. So, typically I go into the bubble or go into the back. I don’t stay in during the prayer. I just think that in a government building is not the place for prayer. That’s meant for churches and synagogues and mosques. That’s where it’s supposed to be, not within this building.
What do you tell young people about government? I always say government is about the people. It’s about you being active. If you have an issue, you need to speak up. All government affects you. At the end of the day, you can greatly affect the process. There’s a woman named Arden Rosenfeld who lives in West Boca. About 10 years ago she was walking her kid on the sidewalk and a car ran over her daughter and killed her. My wife did the funeral, terrible tragedy. A year later, Arden Rosenfeld was in front of the Senate with Bill Nelson by her side asking for a mandate so all new cars would install a sound device … She got it done … I tell them you can be Arden Rosenfeld. You can make a difference. You can better society.
What do you see ahead for Florida? We have an enormous talent base here in Florida. I know we’re trying to build biotechnology. But I think Florida has the groundwork of building a great number of enormous industries locally because we have the talent coming out of our universities which have grown in leaps and bounds over the years.
What’s it like being a Democrat in the GOP-controlled House? It’s very difficult having bills that you know aren’t going to be going anywhere that are good bills that you wish would get heard. You also know that every fight you’re going to have, you’re going to be losing most likely, either in committee or on the floor. … It’s very frustrating. But the reason I stay here and I do it is because there’s certain things you can do to make people’s lives better. On the floor of the House there was a bill to allow foster kids have normal lives. I don’t know if I will pass a bill that’s more important that will have more effect on kids’ lives than this.
What’s with all the honey in your office? I’m one of the largest if not the largest beekeeping insurance agent in the country. Want to know the scariest thing that’s ever happened to me? I walked out of my rental car and there were five gazillion bees all over the place. They were whizzing by my ear. It scared the dickens out of me. And you can’t flinch. I’ve not been stung yet, but it’s going to happen. I kind of grit my teeth. I’m just waiting for it to happen.
Do you text while you drive? I do. I do it as little as possible and I try to do it when the car’s not moving.
Do you own a gun? Never.
Favorite smartphone app: Runkeeper. I run marathons. And Sirius. My wife and I love Howard Stern.
What kind of car do you drive? A black Ford Edge.