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Senate endorsement smackdown in Benacquisto-Merchant race

by George Bennett | June 18th, 2009

There are 26 Republicans in the Florida Senate. So far, at least seven of them have taken sides in the emerging GOP primary battle between Wellington Councilwoman Lizbeth Benacquisto and former state Rep. Sharon Merchant of Palm Beach Gardens for the seat of Democratic Sen. Dave Aronberg, who’s running for attorney general.

Benacquisto has a fund-raiser in Tallahassee next week with five state Senators on the host committee: President Jeff Atwater of North Palm Beach, Majority Leader Alex Diaz de la Portilla of Miami, Don Gaetz of Niceville, Andy Gardiner of Orlando and soon-to-retire Ken Pruitt of Port St. Lucie.

Merchant has not formally opened a campaign, but Republican Sens. Nancy Detert of Venice and Paula Dockery of Lakeland say they’ll be on her team. Many insiders also predict that Sen. Alex Villalobos of Miami, who was defeated by Atwater in a GOP leadership struggle, will take sides with Merchant against Atwater’s favored candidate. Villalobos couldn’t be reached today.

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5 Responses to “Senate endorsement smackdown in Benacquisto-Merchant race”

  1. The Donald Says:

    These comments aren’t intended to be poltical as I’m not a polticial junkie.

    Sharon, you’re fired!! Sorry woman, but you look like Jessie Ventura in drag.

    Don’t know her politics, but Benacquisto has my vote.

  2. Dana Says:

    In 2002, I was with a group that met with Ms. Merchant when she was running in the Republican primary. Being a Republican woman myself, I was hoping to be impressed by Merchant. I did enjoy her wit, but unfortunately her caustic nature overwhelmed her wit. She is also intelligent, but she came across as a know-it-all. And she was a very poor listener. She offered solutions before you could fully explain a problem let alone your own position.

    I didn’t vote for Ms. Merchant.

    I’m not sure what she’s done in District 27 the last seven years, especially the western portions of the district, that now entitles her to my and others votes.

    But I’m looking forward to hearing from her and Ms. Benacquisto.

  3. Realist Says:

    Sharon Merchant is just a giant sized Karen Marcus and about as friendly. She has no business evn running in this race. She has been there and failed, give Lizbeth a shot. Plus, is she hot or what?

  4. a friend Says:


    I am a friend and much of what dana says is true. You are the best candidate to represent this district, but you need to seriously look at your caustic personality traits that all of your friends have learned to accept because we know that its just your way. To the many people who do not know your big heart, it is a real turnoff. When meeting with people, please listen, emphasize and then respond . Do not be so quick to cut people off in mid speech with your authoritative no it al answers even if you DO know it all. It comes off as rude and you ARE NOT a rude person. Tone it down and you can win. You are a great person who knows the legislative process better than most and will be a great senator for our distict given your experience in Tallahassee. Don’t let your personality be a curse. We need you in Tallahassee. This is not a time for neophytes. There is too much at stake for our district.

  5. Observer from Greenacres Says:

    Dear “a friend”,

    You are obviously a friend of Ms. Merchant and your sincerity is apparent. My comments are not intended to be mean or combative either to you or Ms. Merchant.

    If Ms. Merchant were to take your advice, then she would be labeled a phony politician, and justifiably so.

    People are not able to change their personalities unless there has been some traumatic event or great epiphany. Politicians often attempt to give a new impression, but it doesn’t last. Just look at all the “new” Richard Nixons that were presented during his career.

    Ms. Merchant might be able to fake it through an election, but once elected she’d revert back and start accruing many political enemies as she did in the past.

    And because of her personality traits, I do not believe she is the best candidate. Learning the system and how it works is easy. With term limits, to get things done you need someone who can accomplish things immediately by assimilating and working with others. That’s difficult for Ms. Merchant.

    My observations are based on the dozen or so times I’ve talked with or observed Ms. Merchant, and from what others say who know her well, both friend and foe.

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