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Pamela Goodman’

Former House Speaker Tom Gustafson to replace Goodman in state House run against Hager

Friday, July 27th, 2012 by Dara Kam

Palm Beach County Democrats will pick former House Speaker Tom Gustafson to run for state House District 89 race incumbent against state Rep. Bill Hager, R-Boca Raton, according to Palm Beach County Democratic party leader Mark Alan Siegel.

Gustafson, who represented Broward County in the House for more than a decade, will replace Pamela Goodman, who ended her campaign earlier this week because of her husband’s health problems.

The county Democratic Party executive committee will meet on Tuesday to officially make the selection, Siegel said.

Gustafson, a Wellington resident and the godfather of Tri-Rail, currently does not live in the Palm Beach County coastal district but said he’s had his Wellington house on the market for six months and had planned to move to the Boca Raton area before deciding to join the race.

Gustafson, 62, was elected to the Florida House in 1976 and served as speaker from 1988-1990 when Democrats controlled the legislature. His resume includes lengthy stints as a politician, lawyer and academic. Gustafson now serves as the director of research programs in the Finance and Administration Department at Florida International University but is retiring Tuesday, he said.

Gustafson specializes in community planning and transportation issues and was instrumental in the creation of Tri-Rail, which serves Palm Beach, Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

Gustafson said he wants to bring his multi-disciplinary expertise to Tallahassee again to help make the state a better place to live.

“The issues don’t change very much. They get updated. Things become more important one year than the next. But the rhythm stays the same,” Gustafson said. “The parties come and go in terms of who’s the majority. It changed before. It will change again. What is important is we have a state that needs attention. Politics is in the details. If you can work through the details with a focus and, in my case experience not only in politics but in the practice of law and academia, you can come up with good answers. And that’s what I hope to do.”

Democrats have targeted the District 89 race as one of their state priorities and were disappointed by the departure of Goodman, a former vice-president of the Florida League of Women Voters who had nearly universal support within the county.

Gustafson has been out of office for more than two decades and never represented Palm Beach County. Democratic operatives predicted Gustafson, who’s lived in Wellington for a decade but is well-known throughout the state, will be able to tap into resources far beyond the county to help fund the race against Hager, who has collected more than $100,000 for his reelection.

“I don’t think anyone except political aficionados will remember him but remember campaigns are about sharing and providing information,” Siegel said. “This is somebody who’s ready to hit the ground running.”

League of Women Voters VP to challenge Rep. Hager

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012 by George Bennett


Florida League of Women Voters VP Pamela Goodman has decided to run as a Democrat against state Rep. Bill Hager, R-Boca Raton, in a coastal district where Republican and Democratic registrations are fairly evenly split.

Dems have spent months trying to recruit a challenger for the newly drawn District 89, which is made up of precincts that voted 52 percent for Barack Obama in 2008, then favored Republican Rick Scott over Democrat Alex Sink in the 2010 governor’s race. Republicans have a 37.4-to-35.8 percent registration edge over Democrats in the district.


Goodman declined to discuss specific issues in a brief interview Tuesday. Hager’s campaign was quick to pounce on statements she made in 2009 when she was considering a run for Palm Beach County Commission against Republican Commissioner Steven Abrams.

Abrams voted against a property tax rate of $4.34 per $1,000 of appraised value, saying he favored a rate of $4.29 or lower.

“It was a despicable, disgusting vote. … His vote was unconscionable for Palm Beach County,” Goodman said at the time, arguing that a lower level would require the county to make unacceptable service cuts. Goodman ultimately decided not to run for commission.

Hager consultant Tom Plante today called Goodman “a seriously flawed candidate with a record for supporting a major tax increase at the height of the recession. Bill Hager is fiscally conservative, as is this coastal District.”

Last-ditch conservative robo-call pitch: Gingrich for Benson in attorney general race

Monday, August 23rd, 2010 by Dara Kam

Holly Benson’s tapped conservative icon Newt Gingrich for a robo-call last-ditch pitch before Tuesday’s primary election.

holly-newtBenson, a former state representative from Pensacola who’s served as secretary of both the Department of Business and Professional Regulation and the Agency for Health Care Administration under Gov. Charlie Crist, is in a tight three-way GOP primary for attorney general against Pam Bondi and Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp.

Gingrich hails Benson as “a proven conservative you can trust,” a swipe at Bondi, who’s never run for office before and released robo-calls from Sarah “Mama Grizzly” Palin today.

Gingrich says Benson is the best candidate to fight President Barack Obama’s health care plan.

The calls started yesterday and will continue today.

Dems recruit another candidate for open Hasner seat

Saturday, March 6th, 2010 by George Bennett

Democrats have long touted House Majority Leader Adam Hasner’s Palm Beach-Broward seat as a pickup opportunity when Hasner leaves this year because of term limits. Republicans have roughly a 39-to-35 percent registration edge in District 87 and have been losing ground over the past eight years.

But Democratic hopes suffered a blow in January when candidate Lori Berman, who had raised more money than Republican Bill Hager, quit the race to run in more heavily Democratic District 86.

Now Dems have recruited retired construction manager Laura Rawlins-Blum of Boca Raton to run in District 87. Rawlins-Blum, active in the Palm Beach County Democratic Executive Committee, was encouraged to run by Dems including former League of Women Voters President Pamela Goodman. Goodman, who had been urged by some Democrats to run for the seat, will host a kickoff fund-raiser for Rawlins-Blum.

GOP Commissioner Abrams’ vote against property tax rate hike called “despicable” by potential Dem foe

Thursday, September 24th, 2009 by George Bennett



Monday night’s Palm Beach County commission vote for a 14.9 percent property tax rate increase is already emerging as a hot political issue — but not in the way you might think.

Republican Commissioner Steven Abrams’ vote against the rate hike was called “despicable, disgusting” and “unconscionable” today by potential Democratic challenger Pamela Goodman.



Abams and Commissioner Shelley Vana voted against hiking the tax rate from $3.78 to $4.34 per $1,000 of appraised value. Abrams said he favored a rate of $4.29 or lower.

Goodman, former president of the nonpartisan Palm Beach County League of Women Voters, has been weighing a 2010 challenge of Abrams for months but today said she’s not sure whether she’ll run. Goodman said she’s been working with the county Democratic Party to recruit candidates for Abrams’ seat and for other races.


New PBC commish Abrams not a shoo-in for seat next year

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009 by George Bennett

Steven Abrams will be sworn in at  the county commission Tuesday.

Steven Abrams will be sworn in at the county commission Tuesday.

Before he’s even sworn in as Palm Beach County’s latest (but not last) commission appointee, Steven Abrams has to wonder whether fellow Republicans will give him a clear shot at getting elected next year.

He’s slated to take the oath Tuesday after being tapped by Gov. Charlie Crist to replace disgraced Mary McCarty.

Democrats, who now outnumber Republicans in Abrams’ District 4, are vowing a serious 2010 challenge by former League of Women Voters prez Pamela Goodman.


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