Wellington Councilman Priore interested in Santamaria’s seat — but only if it’s openby George Bennett | September 13th, 2009
That’s potentially good news for a local GOP that hasn’t been able to recruit a District 6 candidate. The bad news: Priore says he’ll cross party lines and support Santamaria if the incumbent runs again.Santamaria says he’ll announce in January or February whether he’s running. Meanwhile, attorney Elissa Pearl has opened a Democratic campaign in District 6.
Pearl and Santamaria recently met for the first time.
“Our philosophies are similar and it appears that we care about the same things,” said Pearl after the hourlong sit-down in the commissioner’s office.
Santamaria, 72, called the 37-year-old Pearl “a good person” with “a young person’s idealism. We need people like that.” But Santamaria said a commissioner’s job is tough and complicated.“My question is, (for) Elissa Pearl or anybody else, do they really have the background, the experience, the education, the training, the psychological framework to handle all of these variables on a day-to-day basis?” Santamaria said. “My first impression is, she’ll have a lot to learn.”
Pearl lives just outside District 6, which irks potential GOP candidate Priore. If Santamaria doesn’t run, Priore said, he’d consider the race because “I wouldn’t want to leave the door open to someone that doesn’t live in our area.”
* * *Pleased with the grass-roots volunteer organization for her 2010 Democratic campaign for county commission, school board member Paulette Burdick has put paid consultants Eric Johnson and Neil Schiller on hold — at least temporarily. Burdick is running against state Rep. Mary Brandenburg, D-West Palm Beach, in a Dem primary to succeed term-limited Commish Jeff Koons. Burdick paid $1,000 in June for the consulting expertise of Johnson, who’s also chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Boca Raton, and who works with Schiller on several local races.
“My idea was she didn’t need them,” said Palm Beach Democratic Club President Elna Laun, an unpaid Burdick backer and adviser. “I think I was one of many” offering that advice, Laun said.
* * *Both GOP District 27 state Senate candidates — Wellington Councilwoman Lizbeth Benacquisto and former state Rep. Sharon Merchant — are from Palm Beach County, but about 60 percent of the GOP primary voters are in Lee County.
In the scramble for Lee County support, Benacquisto will be in Fort Myers Friday for a fund-raiser whose hosts include state Rep. Trudi Williams, R-Fort Myers, Lee County Commissioner Frank Mann, school board member Elinor Scricca and longtime Property Appraiser Ken Wilkinson.