It’s settled; Challenge dropped; Bobby Powell is senator from West Palm

Jan 09, 2017
State Sen. Bobby Powell, D-West Palm Beach

State Sen. Bobby Powell, D-West Palm Beach, no longer faces a challenge to his election after his Republican foe withdrew his contest of the race and Florida Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, dissolved a committee to review the matter.

Powell defeated businessman Ron Berman with 54.1 percent of the vote in the Nov. 8 election for the northern Palm Beach County District 30 seat. But Berman filed a notice of contest with the Senate on Nov. 21 because of a then-pending lawsuit by Democrat Ruben Anderson seeking a new Democratic primary in District 30.

Anderson had been thrown off the primary ballot after his campaign bounced a candidate-qualifying check. Anderson cited a Florida Supreme Court ruling to argue he should have been given a chance to remedy the problem and get on the ballot. Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis dismissed Anderson’s suit in December, saying he didn’t have jurisdiction and that it was up to the Senate to decide whether Powell should be seated.

Negron in December appointed a five-member credentials committee that was to start reviewing Berman’s case this Thursday. But Negron dissolved the committee Monday after Berman withdrew his notice of contest over the weekend.

“I’m excited to continue to serve the constituents of District 30,” Powell said Monday. “Last week we had three town halls and this week I’m prepared to go to Tallahassee to do the work of the people (for committee meetings). Irrespective of any challenges, my primary focus is to serve.”

Berman opened a campaign for Palm Beach Gardens City Council on Dec. 20 — but he hasn’t ruled out another run for Senate in 2018.

“I believe that there was a good possibility to have a new election and believe I could have won, and I also believe had Mr. Anderson been in the original race, things may have worked out differently,” Berman said in a statement Monday on his dropping the contest to the 2016 election.

“Mr. Powell himself didn’t violate anyone’s rights, and I also don’t think that the taxpayers should bear the burden of a special election, nor be without representation during the forthcoming legislative session this spring. We fell a little short in the Senate race in this newly drawn district and I will make a decision later this year, whether I will run again next year to have the opportunity to represent all of the great communities in District 30,” Berman said.