THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA: District 83 — Another Rooney Vies For Office

Sep 9, 2010

The following article was published by The News Service of Florida on September 9, 2010:


THE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE, Sept. 9, 2010… Palm Beach County is generally associated with Democratic politics, but the coastal slice of a coastal county that makes up state House District 83 leans Republican, and over the past 20 years it has elected Republicans, but may be leaning to the middle.

Going into the 2010 primary campaign, Republicans made up 41 percent of registered voters in this northern Palm Beach County district, with registered Democrats making up 33 percent. Non-affiliated voters, however, account for 21 percent of the voting base.

Though still heavily Republican, the district has been trending independent since the mid 1990s. In 1996, for example, Republicans accounted for 52 percent of registered voters. Democrats made up 31.6 percent of that total. Non-affiliated voters comprised 16.5 percent of the total.

The district, which picks up much of Palm Beach County’s coastal regions from Palm Beach to Jupiter and west to 190 Ave., has been a Republican stronghold for at least a generation. Held the last eight years by Carl Domino, previous representatives include Jeff Atwater and Sharon Merchant.

Republican candidate Pat Rooney, brings substantial name recognition into the race.  President of the Palm Beach County Kennel Club and other local businesses, Rooney is part of a family dynasty led by Pittsburg Steelers founder Art Rooney and includes younger brother Tom Rooney, now a U.S. Congressman from the area.  Pat Rooney was a member of the South Florida Water Management District governing board before stepping down in July.

“Given the demographics, this is probably a race that Rooney would have to do something (bad) to lose,” said Sid Dinerstein, Palm Beach County Republican party chairman.

Rooney faces Mark Marciano, a Palm Beach optometrist who moved to the county in 1999 after graduating from optometry school at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale. Marciano has not held any elected or appointed office, but is a former president of the Palm Beach County Optometric Association.

Past elections point toward a moderate electorate. Over the years, District 83 voters have sent to office both Republican and Democratic candidates.

During the primary, Republican Pat Rooney easily defeated his Republican primary foes, taking 61 percent of the vote. Marciano faced no opposition. So far, Rooney leads in the contribution front, collecting $152,252 in cash compared to $114,059 for Marciano.