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Democrat Daniel Silvers gears up for a 2016 run, this time in HD 89

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Daniel Silvers collected more money than any other Democratic challenger during a 2014 cycle that was difficult for House Dems, raising some $286,000 in a five-point loss to Republican state Rep. Bill Hager in District 89, based in coastal Palm Beach County.

He’ll likely need to keep it up in 2016 as he jumps into a race in a new, safer seat recently vacated by incumbent state Rep. Dave Kerner, who has opted to seek local office on the Palm Beach County Commission.

Silvers gains a significant advantage by running this time in HD 87 in that Democratic performance is drastically higher than in the 80 percent white swing district he ran for last time around — President Obama carried the seat by 37 points in 2012, and even Alex Sink garnered 59 percent of the vote against Rick Scott in 2010 — but unlike in Hager’s district, Silvers is vulnerable to a primary challenge, perhaps from the district’s large and growing Hispanic or black constituencies.

Democrat Mike Rios squared off in a primary against Kerner in 2012 and made ethnicity an issue.

Of Kerner, who like Silvers is Jewish, Rios told The Palm Beach Post: “I encourage him to run in my district. And I say it’s my district because there are 80,000 Hispanics in the district… Latinos really don’t have a representative they can talk to.”

Rios, president of the Puerto Rican/USA Hispanic Democratic Club, says he may mount another bid in 2016. Boca Raton attorney and Democratic club circuit regular Andy Thomson reportedly may run as well.

Like many in the unusually young district — the average age in the newly drawn seat is 33 — Silvers will probably benefit from a little help from his parents.

His mother Laurie Silvers, co-founder of Sci-Fi Channel  and president of the NASDAQ-listed Hollywood Media Corp., is a wealthy businesswoman and attorney who gave the Florida Democratic Party $616,500  last year and, as her son’s employer, financed at least in part a handful of five-figure loans Silvers’ campaign took on last year.

Silvers was attacked in ads for his role with a subsidiary of Hollywood Media by the state Republican Party last fall, which claimed he gained financially as other employees lost their jobs when the firm went public, charges the local press called “bogus,” motivated out of desperation at Silvers’ challenge.

“Since David Silvers has no political background, there are no votes to go after,” wrote Boca Magazine. 

“But unless the GOP or Hager can provide a better answer, this ad has to be considered dishonest even by the low standards of campaign ads.”

Silvers scooped up $1,000 in campaign cash from Kimberly Anne Rubenstein of Miami Beach, who listed her occupation as “fashion blogger,” and a $909 in-kind contribution from a West Palm Beach Ph.D. student, not exactly the profile of a typical resident of HD 89, which includes Lake Worth and inland West Palm Beach.

How Silvers will adapt his strategy to account for the new seat remains to be seen but, regardless, the current district fundraising record of around $56,000, set by Kerner in his unopposed 2014 campaign, stands to be shattered before this time next year.

Ryan Ray writes about campaigns and public policy in Tampa Bay and across the state. A contributor to and before that, The Florida Squeeze, he covers the Legislature as a member of the Florida Capitol Press Corps and has worked as a staffer on several campaigns. He can be reached at

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