Palm Beach County Best of the Best Political Awards

Line up 100 political mavens and politicians against the wall and ask them who possess the best political minds and skills in Palm Beach County, or who is best at practicing the not-so-gentle art of politics, and you will get a wide array of answers.

But will such a group, possessed of valuable inside knowledge, arrive at a pattern of similar answers if they are surveyed about who is the best of the best? What would be the consensus wisdom of a savvy group of political players?

I decided to find out.

Preparing a survey of five questions, I identified 100 individuals — mostly political consultants, politically savvy business leaders, political operatives and a few politicians with countywide knowledge — and sent them each a confidential email asking who’s best. If they voted for themselves (only one did), I invalidated the response. Also, any votes for me were invalidated, as were any votes for national political figures. Some respondents answered all questions; others did not. Several respondents did not return the survey, for a variety of reasons, I suspect. In choosing survey participants, I based my assessment on the depth of their political knowledge, and not their political party affiliation.

I asked this group for confidential nominations for the following “Best of the Best” political prizes:

  1. Top Three Political Minds in Palm Beach County
  2. Most Honest Politician
  3. Hardest Campaigner
  4. Best Political Fundraiser
  5. Truest Statesman (or woman)

And the winners are:

Hardest Campaigner:  There were a total of 11 nominees. Former state Rep. Adam Hasner had the most votes, followed by Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg and former state Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff.

Most Honest Politician: There were a lot of nominees for this category (17). Florida Rep. Pat Rooney was the winner, followed closely by Boca Raton Deputy Mayor Susan Haynie and Sheriff Ric Bradshaw. It’s interesting to note that, after Rooney, the option of “None” received the second highest number of votes.

Best Political Fundraiser: Former Congressman Allen West won hands down, among 12 nominees. But respectable showings were also made by Hasner and Aronberg. West received nominations in three of the five categories.

Truest Statesman: This category would be coveted by any elected official. The prize goes to Congressman Tom Rooney, followed by Florida CFO Jeff Atwater. It was nice to see that the late Phil Lewis, former Florida Senate president, received a vote in both this category and for Most Honest Politician, and former Congressman Harry Johnston also was a nominee. “None” received seven votes. Pat and Tom Rooney both received nominations for Truest Statesman and Most Honest Politician.

Top Three Political Minds in the County: This group generated the most buzz and the most comment. Combinations of politicians, political operatives and consultants were nominated. There were 28 nominees. The top three vote-getters were BIZPAC Review co-founder Jack Furnari, political strategist Andre Fladell and U.S. Sugar Senior Vice President Robert Coker. Close behind were Randy Nielsen of Public Concepts, and former County Commissioners Burt Aaronson and Karen Marcus. Other vote-getters in this category, in alphabetical order, were: County Commissioner Steve Abrams, political consultant Rick Asnani, Atwater, attorney and lobbyist Bill Boose, political consultant Cathy Brandenburg, Bethesda Healthcare System’s Bob Broadway, Florida Crystals Vice President Gaston Cantens, Palm Beach County Republican Party Chairman Sid Dinerstein, Congresswoman Lois Frankel, business executive Mark Guzzetta, political strategist Eric Johnson, Rich Johnston of Public Concepts,  Investment Corp. of Palm Beach Director of Governmental Affairs Joe Love, Economic Council CEO Danny Martell, former County Commissioner Mary McCarty, attorney and lobbyist Marty Perry, Callery-Judge Groves General Manager Nat Roberts, Pat Rooney, Tom Rooney, political consultant Meryl Stumberger and Lynn University professor Robert Watson.

Reviewing the entire list of 28 nominees for Top Three Political Minds, what strikes me is that non-politicians received more votes than politicians. The vast majority – 81 percent – of the votes in this category went to political consultants and strategists/operatives, and only 19 percent went to politicians. The profound lesson here is that elected officials need to listen to the people who brought them to the dance, and not to themselves.

John R. Smith

John R. Smith is chairman of BIZPAC, the Business Political Action Committee of Palm Beach County, and owner of a financial services company.


  • seazen

    By consultants I am sure you mean those who advised Mitt Romney and who totally misread the country, the data, and the profound shift in our demographics. You probably also mean those who create the wonderfully informative campaign ads that we just couldn't get enough of this year. The only people who really, really respect political consultants are other political consultants. The rest of us; not so much.

  • Big Bamboo

    I am surprised to see that no one nominated Tom Lynch, who is one of our most honest political veterans. I suggest that this is because he is out of the public 's mind because he no longer holds a higher-profile political office.

  • Rifraffe

    Seazen still doesn't get that no matter what the ad campaigns said and no matter who the republicans put up for elective office, as long as he and his ilk have a lock on the massive entitlements crowd and the something for nothing crowd and the "vote for a living" crowd, the liberal socialists will continue to win elections. He will not be happy until the dems manage to finally slay the goose that is laying the golden eggs and until the gravy train has run dry. Of course, soon I fear, he will be leading the crowd that blames republicans and conservatives for his and their inevitable misery. The Romney consultants didn't misread the country. Romney and the rest of us just underestimated the ferocity and the growing numbers populating the free lunch bunch.

    • seazen

      I gather you believe that the majority of American citizens are populating the "free lunch bunch." Too bad they can't join the "want a ride on my private jet?" bunch. The latter being a tiny but arrogant bunch.

  • RUSerious

    LOL! Thanks soooo much for giving me the first truly hysterical laugh of the day! When I saw this list of reprobates, I LMFAO!

  • Rifraffe

    Good old RUserious. All she has left is her "FA", as she says. Her poor mind has been gone for a long time now.

  • Jayne

    This is so obviously a Republican site – the fact that Congressman Ted Deutch didn't make the list of the most honest politicians is surprising.

  • Dopeoplestillreadthi

    hahahahahahahaaaaaaaaaaa… funny, hope the five people who still read this crap know what a joke this is!

  • U have got to be kid

    Jack Furnari and Andre Fladell are the in the "top three political minds"……??? What a joke! These are 2 idiots that continue to give politics a bad name in Palm Beach County and should be awarded the title of one of the top three "most self-serving disgusting people" who who have no credibility in Palm Beach County. They are only performing to satisfy their own pitiful egos. They play their games to try to be important in their own small world. These are two clowns who have no regard for good honest public officials. They just want political stooges (like Adam "Andre" Frankel) to be beholding to them. Jack and Andre, you need to get a new hobby.

  • Rifraffe

    Somehow I doubt if that little rant bothers Jack Furnari one bit. After all, on whose site is Mr U (etc) responding? Obviously he is a faithful reader! . I'm certainly not a spokesperson for BPR but it is easy to imagine Jack Furnari saying that he welcomes all kinds of comments, just keep reading! Perhaps the rest of the BPR world will give more credence to Mr U's remarks if, in future rants, he refrains from using incendiary words like "idiot" and "clown" and spells out his true objections in the tempered and respectful tone we have all come to expect from liberals. In other words Mr. U, how do you really feel?

    • U have got to be kid

      Well, Rif, sorry if I offended you. Clowns and idiots were the most complimentary terms I could come up with these two people who are a disgrace to Palm Beach County politics. If you ever had the pleasure to know these two gentlemen (I use the term loosely) on a personal level, hopefully you would see what phony self-serving people they are.

  • Big Bamboo

    @ U have got to be kidding: Obviously you know nothing about what constitutes a top-notch political mind in a person. It has nothing to do with whether you agree with their style or brand of politics, or not. It has to do with whether such a person can analyze a political situation, or a political candidacy or issue, and design an effective strategy/campaign that will either kill the effort or assure its success. I will bet big money that if you ever make the mistake of going up against either Furnari or Fladell, or the both of them, in a serious political campaign with high stakes, that you and most others will have your political head handed to you on a platter.

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