Democrat Pam Keith, a former U.S. Navy and NextEra Energy attorney who impressed progressive activists with her 2016 U.S. Senate bid, will run for the Palm Beach County-Treasure Coast congressional seat held by freshman Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City.
Keith announced in May that she was exploring a campaign for Mast’s District 18 seat, and she plans to make her candidacy official today.
Mast won the district by 10 points in 2016, but Democrats are hoping President Donald Trump’s low popularity ratings will continue and that voters will punish Mast and other Republicans who voted for a House health care bill, which dismantles much of the Affordable Care Act.
“He is a follower in Congress,” Keith said of Mast. “When his constituents were begging to talk to him and tell him why the vote to repeal Obamacare was a horrible idea…he wasn’t even willing to listen to them.”
Trump carried District 18 with 53 percent of the vote, but Keith believes the president will be a liability for Mast.
“Congress is supposed to be a check on the power of the executive branch and Congress is not doing that. We’ve not seen Brian Mast stand up to anything at this point,” Keith said.
Keith, 38, served in the Navy as a judge advocate for four years, then worked for private law firms before coming to Juno Beach-based NextEra Energy as a labor counsel. She left in 2014 to prepare for a 2016 campaign for the Senate.
Former U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter easily won the nomination. Keith spent about $250,000 and got 15.4 percent of the Democratic primary vote – not far behind the 17.7 percent received by liberal firebrand Alan Grayson, who spent about $5 million.
Keith lived in North Palm Beach but moved to Miami in 2016. She said she plans to move back into District 18 soon. The district encompasses St. Lucie, Martin and northern Palm Beach counties.