|Member of the Florida House of Representatives|
from the 81st district
|Assumed office |
November 8, 2016
|Preceded by||Kevin Rader|
|Member of the Florida Senate|
from the 25th district
November 6, 2012 – November 8, 2016
|Member of the Florida House of Representatives|
from the 85th district
November 4, 2008 – November 6, 2012
|Preceded by||Shelley Vana|
|Born||August 14, 1980|
|Alma mater||Lynn University (B.A.)|
|Profession||Port security specialist|
|Service/branch||United States Coast Guard|
|Years of service||2005-2013|
|Unit||United States Coast Guard Reserve|
Joseph Abruzzo (born August 14, 1980) is a Democratic politician from Florida. He has served as a member of the Florida House of Representatives from the 81st district since 2016, representing part of Palm Beach County. Previously, Abruzzo served two terms in the Florida House from 2008–2012, and then one term in the Florida Senate from 2012–2016.
Abruzzo attended Lynn University, where he served as President of the Student Government Association and was appointed by the Boca Raton City Council to the Boca Raton Education Advisory Board. He graduated with a degree in international communications in 2003, and joined the United States Coast Guard Reserve later that year, where he worked as a port security specialist.
Florida House of Representatives
In 2005, State Representative Anne M. Gannon announced that she would run for the Florida Senate rather than seek re-election in 2006. Abruzzo ran to succeed her in the 86th District, which included Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, and Delray Beach in eastern Palm Beach County. However, when Gannon suspended her Senate campaign to instead seek re-election, Abruzzo switched races, instead opting to challenge Republican Palm Beach County Commissioner Mary McCarty. However, when Gannon again announced that she would not seek re-election to run for Palm Beach County Tax Collector, Abruzzo dropped out of the race against McCarty to run to succeed Gannon, noting, "I have been interested in serving in the legislature from day one." Abruzzo's last-minute decision not to run against McCarty allowed her to win re-election unopposed, causing Palm Beach County Democratic Chairman Wahid Mahmood to criticize Abruzzo and question his party loyalty. Abruzzo faced Maria Sachs, Mark Alan Siegel, and Harriet Lerman in the Democratic primary, and despite a close campaign, ultimately lost to Sachs, receiving 26% of the vote to her 34%.
State Representative Shelley Vana opted against seeking re-election in 2008 to instead run for the Palm Beach County Commission. Abruzzo ran to succeed her in the 85th District, which included Lake Worth and Wellington. He won the Democratic primary unopposed, and faced Howard Coates, an attorney and the Republican nominee, in the general election. Abruzzo was endorsed by Republican Palm Beach County Commissioner Mary McCarty, whom he declined to challenge in 2006, as a "pro-business Democrat." Abruzzo ended up defeating Coates handily, winning his first term in the legislature with 57% of the vote to Coates' 43%.
During his first term in the legislature, Abruzzo worked with State Senator Dave Aronberg to author "Nicole's Law," a piece of legislation requiring "horseback riders 16 and younger to wear a helmet when riding on public roads and rights of way and while taking riding lessons," following the death of a teenage girl in Loxahatchee. Following the resignation of Palm Beach County Commissioner Mary McCarty, who had endorsed Abruzzo in 2008, following corruption charges, Abruzzo called for a state legislative review of county government, noting, "The serious and unfortunate events which have occurred have shaken the public's confidence in their county government."
When he ran for re-election in 2010, Abruzzo faced Tami Donnally, a ministry administrator and the Republican nominee. Donnally attacked Abruzzo for his opposition to a state constitutional amendment that aimed to prevent the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's insurance mandate from being enforced in Florida, while Abruzzo campaigned on his accomplishments in the legislature. Abruzzo narrowly defeated Donnally to win re-election, receiving 53% of the vote to her 47%
In 2012, following the reconfiguration of the state's legislative districts, Abruzzo opted to run for the Florida Senate rather than seek re-election. He won the Democratic primary unopposed in the 25th District, and faced Melanie Peterson, a horse broker and the Republican nominee. Despite the district's Democratic lean, the Republican Party of Florida targeted the race, viewing it as a potential pickup opportunity. Abruzzo campaigned on his legislative record, which included passing twenty bills in four years, while Peterson presented herself as an outsider. She attacked him for his proposed 2013 legislative priorities, which included a texting while driving ban, increased funding for foreign-language education in public schools, and animal rights legislation. The Palm Beach Post endorsed Abruzzo over Peterson, citing his opposition to Governor Rick Scott's proposal to eliminate the state income tax and education cuts. The Sun-Sentinel concurred, noting that while Peterson "shows promise as a first-time candidate," Abruzzo "has a track record that fits this new district" and his "experience and productivity gives him a sizeable edge." Despite the perceived closeness of the race, Abruzzo won election to the Senate by a wide margin, winning 57% of the vote to Peterson's 43%.
During his tenure in the Senate, Abruzzo worked with State Representative Dave Kerner to author legislation that severed the "parental rights of a rapist if a child is conceived as the result of the attack," which unanimously passed both chambers of the legislative and was signed by Governor Rick Scott. He sponsored legislation that would have prevented discrimination against members of the LGBT community in employment, housing, or public accommodations, though it died in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Return to the House
Following court-ordered redistricting of Senate districts in 2016, Abruzzo decided to run for the State House again rather than seek re-election in his reconfigured Senate district.
- Crawford, Judy (January 14, 2002). "High school sophomore donates 'locks of love'". Boca Raton News. Retrieved May 29, 2016.
- King, Dale M. (July 23, 2006). "Commission-hopeful Abruzzo jumps to House 86 race". Boca Raton News. Retrieved May 29, 2016.
- Hafenbrack, Josh (July 22, 2006). "Elections Bring Unopposed Races And Crowded Fields". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved May 29, 2016.
- "September 5, 2006 Primary Election, Democratic Primary, State Representative District: 86". Florida Department of State Division of Elections. Retrieved May 29, 2016.
- Bennett, George (September 22, 2008). "McCarty backs Abruzzo; accusations fly (again)". The Palm Beach Post. Retrieved May 29, 2016.
- "November 4, 2008 General Election, State Representative District: 85". Florida Department of State Division of Elections. Retrieved May 29, 2016.
- Allen, C. Ron (June 8, 2009). "Gov. Crist signs horse rider helmet law". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved May 29, 2016.
- Hafenbrack, Josh (January 12, 2009). "Abruzzo, once a McCarty ally, asks for legislative review of PBC government corruption". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved May 29, 2016.
- Bennett, George (November 8, 2010). "Fla. Dems blame lack of unified message in electoral beat-down". Treasure Coast Newspapers. Retrieved May 29, 2016.
- Malek, Mitra (November 2, 2010). "District 85: Tami Donally holds thin lead over state Rep. Joseph Abruzzo". The Palm Beach Post. Retrieved May 29, 2016.
- "November 2, 2010 General Election, State Representative District: 85". Florida Department of State Division of Elections. Retrieved May 29, 2016.
- Solomon, Lois K. (October 25, 2012). "Revised state Senate Dist. 25 mostly covers areas west of turnpike, other parts of Palm Beach County". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved May 29, 2016.
- Thompson, Kevin D. (October 24, 2012). "Election 2012: Florida Senate, District 25". The Palm Beach Post. Retrieved May 29, 2016.
- Schultz, Randy (October 22, 2012). "Abruzzo over Peterson in Florida Senate District 25". The Palm Beach Post. Retrieved May 29, 2016.
- "State House District 90 and State Senate District 25: Choose Abruzzo, Berman". Sun-Sentinel. October 15, 2012. Retrieved May 29, 2016.
- "November 6, 2012 General Election, State Senator District: 25". Florida Department of State Division of Elections. Retrieved May 29, 2016.
- Koff, Rochelle (April 30, 2013). "Bill to sever parental rights of rapists ready for governor". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved May 29, 2016.
- Bakeman, Jessica (February 9, 2016). "Senate judiciary panel still deadlocked on LGBT anti-discrimination bill". Politico. Retrieved May 29, 2016.
- Benett, George (2016-06-08). "More redistricting drama: State Sen. Joseph Abruzzo, state Rep. Kevin Rader swap races". Palm Beach Post. Retrieved 2018-07-10.