By Steve Plunkett
Four of the five candidates hoping to become the next District 89 state representative in November will first duke it out in the Aug. 28 Democratic and Republican primaries.
On the GOP side, barrier island resident and Delray Beach accountant Mike Caruso faces Boca Raton lawyer Matt Spritz.
Registered Democrats in District 89, which leans Republican and stretches along the coast from Boca Raton to Singer Island, will choose either Ocean Ridge Mayor Jim Bonfiglio, a lawyer, or Boca Raton real estate agent Ryan Rossi, a former high school teacher.
Bonfiglio, 64, who promises to make life on the barrier island “easier, safer and better,” has been on the Ocean Ridge Town Commission since 2014 after 14 years on the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission.
He had $29,497 in campaign contributions through July 20, the latest report available. He also lent his campaign $65,000. Contributors include the law firm of former Ocean Ridge Mayor Ken Kaleel ($1,000), numerous other lawyers and law firms and the Palm Beach Classroom Teachers Association political action committee ($500).
Rossi, 33, a Florida Atlantic University graduate who taught government and economics at Pope John Paul II High School in Boca Raton, offers himself as part of a “new generation” of Democratic leaders.
Campaign finance reports show him with $16,287 in donations and $1,100 in self-loans. His donors include county Property Appraiser Dorothy Jacks ($100), Florida College Democrats ($100), Gulf Stream resident George Elmore ($150), the Economic Council of Palm Beach County PAC ($1,000) and Boca Raton activist Judith Kaye ($1,000).
Republicans also have a choice between generations.
Caruso, 59, a forensic CPA who qualified to run for the Florida House by collecting 1,241 petition signatures, says he will bring “real, experienced, community-based leadership” to Tallahassee. He has been a member of the Delray Beach Police Advisory Board and the West Atlantic Redevelopment Coalition Board and also president of the Villas of Ocean Crest homeowners association and Atlantic Grove condominium association.
As of July 20 he had $66,770 in contributions and loaned his campaign $210,000. Among the contributors are Caffe Luna Rosa restaurant owner Francis Marincola ($2,000), Palm Beach Kennel Club ($1,000), the nonprofit Florida Limousine Association ($1,000) and west Delray farmers Richard Bowman ($1,000) and Theresa Bowman ($1,000) and their Beefy Tree Farm ($1,000).
Spritz, 35, is no stranger to state politics, according to his LinkedIn biography. He was a campaign manager for Naples Republican Matt Hudson’s unsuccessful 2016 Florida Senate primary run, then managed the successful Florida House campaign of Sarasota businesswoman Alex Miller. After Miller was elected, Spritz became legislative aide to Naples businessman and state Rep. Bob Rommel for the 2017 legislative session. Rommel, Miller and Hudson all have endorsed Spritz’s candidacy.
Spritz gained brief media attention in 2012 in the New York Daily News — he graduated from New York University School of Law — when he and a friend sued celebrity fitness trainer Harley Pasternak after a squabble about a basketball court.
He has $135,485 in campaign contributions and gave himself a $40,000 loan. His supporters include JM Family Enterprises ($1,000), Palm Beach Kennel Club ($1,000), Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association ($1,000), Sunshine State Conservatives ($1,000), former Manalapan Mayor David Cheifetz ($1,000), Florida Bankers Association ($1,000) and Gulf Stream resident George Elmore ($250).
State Rep. Bill Hager, who first won the District 89 seat in 2012, cannot run because of term limits. The primary winners will also face Delray Beach business owner Deborah Wesson Gibson, who is not affiliated with a party, in November.
How to vote
When: Early voting is Aug. 13-26 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Voting on Election Day, Aug. 28, is 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Where: Early voting sites include the Downtown Boca Raton Library, 400 NW Second Ave., and the Boynton Beach Civic Center, 128 E. Ocean Ave. For other sites across Palm Beach County or to look up your precinct place, go to pbcelections.org