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Politics

HD 81: Steve Perman and Kevin Rader Battle in Democratic Primary

July 17, 2012 - 6:00pm

As he seeks a second term in the Florida House, Rep. Steve Perman, D-Boca Raton, faces a primary challenge from the man he replaced -- former Rep. Kevin Rader.

In 2010, Rader, who was elected to the House in 2008, ran unsuccessfully for the Florida Senate, allowing Perman to run for the open seat. Now they are clashing in the primary on Aug. 14.

Perman and Rader face a changed district. The seat they held represented parts of Martin, Okeechobee, Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties. With the Legislature having handled redistricting earlier this year, they now fight for an HD 81 seat that stretches across Palm Beach County.

While he is not the incumbent, Rader has the edge over his rival when it comes to fundraising. Since entering the race in February, Rader has raised more than $95,000 and has kept his powder dry. As of July 6, Rader spent more than $27,000. With around $72,000 in the bank, Rader should be in good shape in the final weeks of the primary contest.

But Perman has also been keeping his money in the bank. By July 6, Perman had raised more than $61,000 and spent more than $11,000, giving him around $50,000.

The leadership of the Florida business community is divided over who to back in the primary. Earlier in the month, the Florida Chamber of Commerce endorsed Raders bid to return to Tallahassee. But in June, the Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) backed Perman.

Whoever emerges from the primary will be a heavy favorite over the Republican candidate in the race. Republican activist James Ryan OHara has an open shot at his partys nomination but has not been able to match either of the Democrats in terms of fundraising. So far in the 2012 election cycle, he has raised almost $500, loaned his campaign $100, relied on more than $200 of in-kind donations and spent $525.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com or at (850) 727-0859.

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