Home Financial responsibility Republican candidates want to turn Florida’s District 23 from blue to red

Republican candidates want to turn Florida’s District 23 from blue to red


Republicans are hoping for a red wave in November and seven candidates are in the August 23 primary ballot to try to overthrow the Democratic seat in District 23.

US Representative Ted Deutch leaves Congress after six terms to become the executive director of the American Jewish Committee, an advocacy organization. Republicans want to flip that seat as part of the party’s effort to take control of the US House.

The fight for District 23 includes one of the largest pools of candidates this election cycle. After the redistricting, the district traded some votes in Deerfield Beach for more in Parkland; both are towns in northern Broward County.

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Most candidates are involved in Republican party politics. Joe Budd is the founder of Club 45, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting former President Donald Trump. Christy McLaughlin was a grassroots organizer for the party and interned for a Republican U.S. Representative.

At a July 26 Republican candidates forum, with an audience of about 100, organizers conducted a straw poll that resulted in a tie between Budd and Jim Pruden, a former attorney who also ran in 2020 for a position in Congress.

Another rival, Darlene Swafar, racked up more endorsements in her campaign than most of her competitors. She and Pruden both raised a campaign contribution exceeding $220,000.

Steven Chess, a retired chiropractor, raised nearly $100,000 to $135,000 less in contributions than Pruden and Swafar.

The other two candidates are Ira Weinstein and Myles Perrone.

The Palm Beach Post conducted a criminal background check on each candidate. The Post reports all criminal charges filed and the outcome of cases since January 2012, even when they did not result in a conviction.

Joe Budd, 2022 Republican primary candidate for the 23rd congressional race

Joe Bud

Age and residence: 59, Boca Raton.

Main campaign priorities: Budd underlined his belief in returning to energy independence to “solve much of the economic problems caused by the policies of the Democratic Party”. He suggested drilling at Anwar in northern Alaska, finishing and opening the Keystone XL pipeline, opening up more federal lands for oil and gas leases, and stopping “EPA foolishness and environmentalists’ overreach.”

Employment history: Budd has owned a business, Health and Wealth Partners, since 2015. He has also been a Registered Representative of Lincoln Financial Securities Corporation since 1993.

Political context: Budd is the president and founder of Club 45, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting Trump’s agenda. He is currently a member of the Palm Beach County Republican State Committee.

Education: Budd’s highest education is a high school diploma.

Criminal history: None.

Amendments: Budd is supported by Florida Family Action, the Broward County Police Benevolent Association, former Congressman Allen West and Andrew Pollack, the father of Parkland Meadow student Pollack, who died in a high school mass shooting Marjory Stoneman Douglas in 2018.

Finance: Budd’s contribution receipts total over $103,000, including approximately $54,000 in individual contributions and $49,500 in loans.

Darlene Swafar, Republican candidate in the 2022 primary for the 23rd congressional district

Darlene Cerezo Swafar

Age and residence: 55, Deerfield Beach

Main campaign priorities: Swafar’s top campaign priorities include reforming or removing Section 230, which grants legal immunity to online platforms; promote financial and fiscal responsibility in Congress; and give more power back to the states.

Employment history: Swafar has been a Medicare insurance broker and owner of Sunshine Insurance Associates for nearly 12 years.

Political context: Swafar won the Hispanic Republican National Assembly Speaker’s Award for Conservative Excellence in October 2021.

Education: Swafar received her associate’s degree in business administration from St. John’s University and took classes at Florida International University, where she said she was one class away from graduating.

Criminal history: None.

Amendments: Swafar is endorsed by Veterans for America First, Latinos for America First, United Christians for America, Restore Liberty, Florida Hispanic Republican National Assembly and Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, retired U.S. Army general and former Trump’s national security adviser who was convicted on charges of investigating Trump’s campaign ties to Russia.

Finance: Swafar’s campaign contributions topped $221,000 as of July 27. Its largest donation is a $35,000 donation from Nancy Layman to Ellijay, Georgia, owner of Zyvax, Inc., a chemical manufacturing company.

Steven Chess, 2022 Republican primary candidate for the 23rd congressional district.

Steven Chess

Age and residence: 72 Fort Lauderdale

Main campaign priorities: Chess said he wanted to push for secure borders, sound tax policies, sound money and a respectful government that works for the citizen and promotes a “fair, impartial and truthful press”. He also said he wants current libel and slander laws updated “so politicians who lie are held accountable”.

Employment history: Chess retired from chiropractor at age 55.

Political context: None.

Education: Chess earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and a minor in psychology from Adelphi University. He started a master’s degree at Stonybrook University, but he didn’t complete the degree. He received his Doctor of Chiropractic from Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa.

Criminal history: None.

Amendments: Chess said he was “not one to solicit endorsements”.

Finance: Chess campaign revenue totaled over $82,000 on July 28. Most of his campaign is self-funded, and his main donors are retired members of the community.

Christy McLaughlin, Republican candidate in the 2022 primary for the 23rd congressional district

Christy McLaughlin

Age and residence: 26, Deerfield Beach.

Main campaign priorities: McLaughlin’s top campaign priorities include repeal of the federal income tax, pushing for a balanced budget amendment, enforcement and establishment of term limits, creation of a law government on voter ID, completing a US border wall, promoting pro-life legislation and dismantling “unconstitutional departments like the US Department of Education.”

Employment history: McLaughlin was a field organizer in 2018 for the Republican Party, a legislative intern for U.S. Representative Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami, in the summer of 2019, and an intern at the State’s Attorney’s Office for three summers from 2016 to 2018.

Political context: McLaughlin ran for Congress in 2020 in the Collier County area. She served on the Republican Executive Committee for Collier County.

Education: McLaughlin earned his bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Florida Gulf Coast University and a teaching certificate. She also obtained her Juris Doctor from Ave Maria Law School.

Criminal history: None.

Amendments: None.

Finance: McLaughlin’s campaign contributions exceed $25,000. One of its major donors is Thomas Monaghan, the founder of Ave Maria University. Other major donors are local community business owners or retired members.

Myles Perrone, 2022 Republican primary candidate for the 23rd congressional district.

Myles Perron

Age and residence: 28, Coral Springs

Main campaign priorities: Perrone’s top campaign priorities include promoting fair elections, bolstering border security and promoting energy independence.

Employment history: Perrone has owned Perrone Irrigation for five years, and prior to that worked in the irrigation industry for the county towns of Broward, Margate and Coral Springs from 2012 to 2017.

Political context: None.

Education: Perrone did not attend university.

Criminal history: None

Amendments: None

Finance: Perrone’s campaign contributions total $10,500, which is self-funded.


James “Jim” Pruden

Age and residence: 68, Park

Main campaign priorities: Pruden said his campaign priorities include reducing inflation, pushing for cuts in foreign aid, eliminating foreign dependency, defending the Second Amendment, establishing federal minimums for crimes, supporting heartbeat legislation for abortions, defending the rights of the state to govern their elections, keeping Israel safe, protecting free speech in the workplace, mandating the program transparency and rethinking and reforming Obamacare.

Employment history: Pruden closed his firm, James L. Pruden PA, in 2019 to be a full-time candidate for Congress in 2020. However, he is still a licensed attorney.

Political context: He ran for the legislative elections in 2020.

Education: Pruden went to Nova Southeastern University for his bachelor’s degree in management and professional studies, his master’s degree in business administration and his juris doctor. He earned an associate’s degree in business management from Prince George’s Community College in Maryland.

Criminal history: None.

Amendments: Pruden is endorsed by America’s First PACT and the Palm Beach Post.

Finance: Pruden’s campaign contributions total more than $224,000, with many of the larger donations being self-funded or from other local lawyers or business owners.

Ira Weinstein, Republican candidate in the 2022 primary for the 23rd congressional district

ira weinstein

Age and residence: 71, Pompano Beach

Main campaign priorities: Weinstein’s campaign priorities include promoting the fossil fuel industry, creating jobs, closing borders and strengthening immigration enforcement, promoting parental rights and reversing of inflation.

Employment history : Weinstein is an independent attorney at the Weinstein Law Firm and has managed real estate since 2012.

Political context: None.

Education: He received his bachelor’s degree in economics from Syracuse University and his Juris Doctorate from St. John’s University School of Law.

Criminal history: None.

Amendments: None.

Finance: None were found on the Federal Election Commission or state elections website.