Jared Moskowitz dominates competitors in fundraising, endorsements to fill open CD 23 seat


The South Florida political world was turned on its head — and the names of potential successors flew fast and furious — when U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch announced in February he would retire from Congress after more than 10 years representing the area.

Some of those names bandied about as potential successors to Deutch are now endorsing the candidate who has acquired an air of inevitability since he became the first major name to announce his candidacy — Broward County Commissioner Jared Moskowitz. He’s raised the most money and secured the most high-profile endorsements in the race to represent the district stretching from Boca Raton to Fort Lauderdale.

But there are 12 other candidates in Florida’s 23rd Congressional District — five other Democrats and seven Republicans — vying for Primary victory on Aug. 23 to win a spot in November’s General Election.

The district, which includes the northwest Broward suburbs as well as the coastal areas of south Palm Beach County to Fort Lauderdale, leans heavily Democratic, according to Matt Isbell of MCI Maps. The district elected Joe Biden by 13 points, Isbell’s analysis found, so whoever wins the Democratic Primary is heavily favored to go to Washington.

To that end, Moskowitz is far ahead in the money race. He’s raised $1.1 million, making his rivals’ campaign kitties look positively anemic. Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Ben Sorensen is his closest competitor, raising a total of $549,883. Hava Holzhauer, former Anti-Defamation League Florida regional director, has reported raising $169,475.

Three other candidates, perennial candidate Allen Ellison, entrepreneur Michaelangelo Hamilton and Central Florida Community Development Corporation Board member Mike Trout, are all around the $11,000 mark for money added to their campaign holdings, according to reports to the Federal Elections Commission.

Moskowitz came into the race with a leg up, as he’d gotten national recognition for running the state’s Division of Emergency Management (DEM). He was dubbed the state’s “Master of Disaster,” for his role in managing the state’s response to a conga line of hurricanes, the COVID-19 pandemic and then a hurricane during the pandemic.

Moskowitz, the son of a well-known Broward County lawyer, lobbyist and Democratic fundraiser, came into politics early on. He won election to the Parkland City Commission at the age of 25, when he was still in law school.

He was serving as a state Representative for northwest Broward when the state’s worst school shooting happened in his hometown at his alma mater, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Moskowitz is credited with a key role in convincing his legislative colleagues to pass a measure that raised the minimum age required to purchase assault-style rifles from 18 to 21 and other measures.

Moskowitz has taken some incoming fire though. Sorensen and progressive Democrats have criticized his ties to Gov. Ron DeSantis. The Governor brought on Moskowitz to run DEM and then appointed him to serve out the remainder of Barbara Sharief’s term on the Broward County Commission.

“One of our opponents, Jared Moskowitz, has worked for Ron DeSantis, enabled his COVID policies,” Sorensen said at a forum, according to the Sun Sentinel. “That is not what we need in our member of Congress.”

Moskowitz countered the criticisms, pointing out disaster management is not a partisan issue.

“As a lifelong Democrat, I didn’t vote for or support Ron DeSantis and have never voted for a Republican in my life,” he told the Sun-Sentinel.

Still, it appears Sorensen is the preferred candidate for the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. Endorsements for him have come from the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida, the Broward County Democratic Black Caucus and the Black Vote Broward PAC. The Florida LGBTQ Democratic Caucus endorsed both Sorensen and Moskowitz, however.

Moskowitz has the support of more high-profile Democrats, such as former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; the fifth-highest ranking Democrat in the House, Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries; and U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, in addition to a raft of state lawmakers, local elected leaders and groups advocating for tightening gun control laws.

Meanwhile, the seven Republicans running for the nomination to meet the winner of the Democrats’ faceoff are hoping to flip the seat. Contenders are previous nominee for the seat Joe Budd, retired chiropractor Steve Chess, lawyer Christy McLaughlin, Coral Springs resident Myles Perrone, lawyer Jim Pruden, insurance broker Darlene Swaffar and lawyer Ira Weinstein.

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