State Rep. Rader for Aronberg’s Senate seat?by George Bennett | June 20th, 2009
Freshman state Rep. Kevin Rader, D-Delray Beach, isn’t ruling out a 2010 run for the West Palm Beach-to-Fort Myers state Senate seat that Sen. Dave Aronberg, D-Greenacres, is giving up to run for attorney general.
“I’ll have to look at the numbers and see if, A, it’s a winnable seat and, B, if I have the time to do it,” Rader said today of the roughly 130-mile-long district. “Campaigning for that seat is very difficult.”
Rader said he expects to make a decision sometime this summer.
Rader so far is the only Democrat from Palm Beach County to show interest in the district, which could be a partisan and geographic battleground next year.
Two Palm Beach County Republicans – Wellington Councilwoman Lizbeth Benacquisto and former state Rep. Sharon Merchant of Palm Beach Gardens – are expected to run for the District 27 Senate seat. Benacquisto has opened a campaign and Merchant says she plans to soon.
Fort Myers attorney Peter Burkert, a Democrat who lost a 2006 state House bid, is also considering a run for Aronberg’s seat.
About 54 percent of Senate District 27 voters lived in Palm Beach County before the 2008 general election, with about 45 percent in Lee County and the remainder in Glades and Charlotte counties. But in Aronberg’s victory over Republican Matt Caldwell last November, 50 percent of ballots were cast by Lee County voters and 49.3 percent came from Palm Beach County.
Democrat Aronberg has represented the district since 2002, and President Obama got about 54 percent of the District 27 vote in November. Democrats held a 40-to-36 percent registration edge there before the November election.
A Palm Beach County candidate has a big advantage in a Democratic primary in District 27. About two-thirds of the district’s Democrats live in Palm Beach County.
In a GOP primary, a Lee County candidate has the advantage because about 60 percent of District 27 Republicans live there. Caldwell, the Lee County Republican who challenged Aronberg last year, recently announced he will not run in 2010 and is backing Benacquisto.
Benacquisto, Burkert, Merchant and Rader all live outside the boundaries of District 27. Benacquisto’s Wellington precinct is adjacent to a precinct in District 27.