State Rep. Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach, has a history of modestly financed campaigns and a liberal voting record that has displeased the businesses who stroke big checks for candidates across Florida.
That’s no problem in a House district where Democrats hold a 15-point registration advantage and Pafford hasn’t faced tough opposition. But with House Dems installing him as their leader-designate for the 2014-16 term, Pafford is now in charge of recruiting and raising money for House races statewide.
Pafford says he’s up for the challenge and will rely on a collaborative approach to raise money.
“We need to work with our members that are good fundraisers and really kind of lift them to be able to help me do it. It’s not going to be Mark Pafford. If we’re really going to build a team, then it’s going to be a team effort,” Pafford told the Politics column.
From his 2008 campaign through the end of June, Pafford raised $227,993 for his own races. State Rep. Alan Williams, D-Tallahassee, whom Pafford defeated in last week’s leadership vote, raised $515,295 over the same period.
Pafford said part of the reason his total has been low is that he hasn’t needed big bucks and hasn’t wanted to divert money from other Democrats.
“There’s no reason to go out and scoop up hundreds of thousands of dollars when there are races throughout the state that would require more than my own,” Pafford said.
Associated Industries of Florida and the Florida Chamber of Commerce — two groups that influence where the Florida business and lobbying establishments direct their contributions — both ranked Pafford 119th out of 120 House members on their 2013 legislative scorecards.
But Pafford said his record and reputation for outspoken liberalism shouldn’t hinder the flow of money to other Dems.
“This isn’t about Mark Pafford,” he said. “The caucus isn’t going to … careen to one side or another.”
— Melissa McKinlay, an aide in Palm Beach County’s legislative delegation office, is giving serious thought to entering the already crowded Democratic race for the western county District 6 commission seat.
A longtime Wellington resident who now lives outside the district in Lake Worth, McKinlay says she’ll decide soon and will move back into District 6 if she runs. People she’s talked to while weighing a run include Fred Angelo, the first legislative vice president for the influential Professional Firefighters and Paramedics of Palm Beach County
“We think she would make a good candidate,” said Angelo, who said the union is not yet taking sides in the race.
Dems Kathy Foster and Fred Pinto have opened District 6 campaigns and Martha Webster says she’ll enter the race soon.
— U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Okeechobee, says he doesn’t plan to get involved in the Republican primary for the Palm Beach-Treasure Coast congressional seat of freshman Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter.
Murphy’s seat includes much of Rooney’s turf from before the 2012 redistricting, and the Rooney name remains big there. Two of Tom Rooney’s brothers, Joe Rooney and Chris Rooney, hosted a fundraiser for Ellen Andel last week at Rooney’s the Gastropub in Jupiter.
—Former state Rep. Carl Domino, one of Andel’s GOP primary rivals in the Congressional District 18 race, has been invoking former U.S. Rep. Allen West’s name pretty heavily in his fundraising pitches, including one money appeal last month that included 12 mentions of the conservative firebrand.
But a Domino fundraising email Friday didn’t refer to West even once. The email went to prospective donors a day after the announcement that West’s role at conservative PJ Media had been dramatically reduced and allegations surfaced that West had called a staffer a “Jewish American princess” during an office argument.
Domino said it was only coincidence that West wasn’t mentioned in the Friday fundraising email. He said the appeal was written a few weeks before it went out to prospective donors.
—Boca Raton orthodontist Larry Kawa, already known for making big conservative political splashes, will be in Washington on Tuesday to announce that his 70-employee practice is taking part in a federal lawsuit that aims “to force Obamacare to conform to the rule of law as it applies to the employer mandate.”
The suit is being filed by Judicial Watch, the conservative legal outfit that made a name for itself by tangling with President Bill Clinton in the 1990s.
Kawa was on the host committee for a Mitt Romney fundraiser last year and has underwritten events that have brought former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty to Boca Raton.
Kawa, who said he offers his employees “top-shelf” health insurance, wouldn’t discuss details of the Obamacare suit ahead of Tuesday’s Washington rollout. While opposing the health care law, conservatives have also blasted President Barack Obama for delaying its employer mandate without getting congressional approval.