|Member of the Florida Senate
from the 29th district
November 8, 2016
|Member of the Florida House of Representatives
from the 81st district
November 6, 2012 – November 8, 2016
|Succeeded by||Joseph Abruzzo|
|Member of the Florida House of Representatives
from the 78th district
November 4, 2008 – November 2, 2010
|Preceded by||Richard A. Machek|
|Succeeded by||Steve Perman|
October 6, 1968 |
|Children||Caleb, Ruby, Yael, Ezra|
|Alma mater||Boston University (B.S.) (B.A.)|
Kevin Rader (born October 6, 1968) is a Democratic member of the Florida Senate who has represented the 29th district, including parts of Palm Beach and Broward Counties, since 2016. He previously served three terms in the Florida House of Representatives, from 2008 to 2010 and again from 2012 until his election to the Senate in 2016.
Rader was born in Detroit, Michigan, and moved to the state of Florida in 1972, where he graduated from Lake Brantley High School in Altamonte Springs in 1986. After high school, he attended Boston University, graduating with his bachelor's degree in 1990.
Florida House of Representatives
In 2000, when incumbent State Representative Debby Sanderson ran for a seat in the Florida Senate rather than seeking re-election, an open seat was created in the 91st District, based in Broward County and Palm Beach County. Rader won the Democratic primary and advanced to the general election, where he faced Connie Mack IV, the Republican nominee and the son of retiring United States Senator Connie Mack III. The Sun-Sentinel criticized both candidates, opining that, regardless of the victor, the district would be represented by a "young, inexperienced representative." Despite this, however, the paper endorsed Mack, hoping that Republicans in the legislature would "make sure Mack learns legislative procedure and help the son of the senator become a competent state representative." Mack ended up defeating Rader by a wide margin, with Rader only receiving 44% of the vote to his opponent's 56%.
Rader experienced more success, however, when State Representative Richard A. Machek was unable to seek another term in 2008, and retired; Rader ran to succeed him in the 78th District, which was based in northern Broward County, western Martin County, eastern Okeechobee County, western Palm Beach County, and central St. Lucie County. In the Democratic primary, Rader faced Steve Perman and Steve Nichol, whom he was narrowly able to defeat, winning 38% of the vote to Perman's 36% and Nichol's 26%. He advanced to the general election, where he was elected to his first term unopposed.
First Florida Senate candidacy
When State Senator Dave Aronberg declined to seek another term in the legislature to instead run for attorney general in 2010, Rader ran to succeed him in the 27th District, which stretched from Boynton Beach to Cape Coral and included parts of Charlotte County, Glades County, Lee County, and Palm Beach County. In the Democratic primary, Rader faced retired lawyer and 2008 legislature candidate Peter Burkert. During the campaign, The Palm Beach Post endorsed Burkert and strongly criticized Rader for his co-sponsorship of "one of the worst insurance giveaway bills, the so-called 'State Farm Bill' that would have allowed the state's 15 largest property insurers to charge basically whatever they wanted." Rader defeated Burkert by a slim margin, winning 53% of the vote to Burkert's 47% and advancing to the general election, where he faced former Wellington Village Councilwoman Lizbeth Benacquisto, the Republican nominee. A vicious election ensued, with Rader accusing Benacquisto of committing 105 election law violations, which Politifact rated as a true statement, and of supporting making abortion illegal in all cases, "including rape, incest, even to save a woman's life," which Politifact rated as "mostly true." Benacquisto condemned Rader's attack, revealing that she had been raped while she was in college and that his attacks "really crossed the line," while still maintaining her opposition to abortion. Benacquisto ultimately defeated Rader, winning 54% of the vote to his 46%.
Return to the Florida House
In 2012, when the state legislative districts were reconfigured, Rader opted to run for a second nonconsecutive term in the 81st District, which contained much of the territory that he had previously represented in Palm Beach County. He faced Steve Perman, his successor as State Representative in the 78th District, in the Democratic primary. During the course of the campaign, the business community split in its support for the candidates, with Rader scoring the endorsement of the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Perman gaining the support of the Associated Industries of Florida. Perman won the endorsement of the Sun-Sentinel in his campaign for re-election, which praised Rader as "a very qualified opponent," but which noted that "there is little in Perman's performance to call for an immediate change." Rader was able to defeat Perman by a wide margin to win his party's nomination, scoring 57% of the vote to Perman's 43%, and advancing to the general election, where he faced James O'Hara, the Republican nominee. This time, the Sun-Sentinel endorsed Rader, praising him for his "state capitol experience" that would serve well "the varied needs of a district that runs from suburban affluence to rural poverty." The Palm Beach Post, however, disagreed, and endorsed O'Hara over Rader, criticizing Rader for being "desperate to get back into the Legislature" and for supporting deregulation of the insurance industry while he served.
Throughout the 2013 Legislative Session Rader served on five committees, Health Quality Subcommittee, Insurance and Banking Subcommittee, State Affairs Committee, Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee (Democratic Ranking Member), and the Healthy Families Subcommittee. Following the 2013 Legislative Session he was named the Financial Services Council Award Winner by the Associated Industries of Florida at the Champion of Business Awards Program for his willingness to fight for sound public policy for Florida’s consumers and businesses. He was also named the Outstanding Legislative Leadership Award Winner by the Florida Insurance Council in June 2013.
In 2016, Rader ran for the Florida Senate seat vacated by Joseph Abruzzo, who opted to run for Rader's House seat instead of re-election in his reconfigured Senate district. Rader defeated teacher Mindy Koch in the Democratic primary with 58.5% of the vote. He won the general election without opposition.
- "Elect Connie Mack". Sun-Sentinel. October 24, 2000. Retrieved May 9, 2014.
- "For Florida State Senate District 27, Democratic primary: Burkert". The Palm Beach Post. July 30, 2010. Retrieved May 9, 2014.
- Gillespie, Pat (October 24, 2010). "Florida House candidate Lizbeth Benacquisto accused of 105 election law violations". Politifact. Retrieved May 9, 2014.
- Revehl, Rachel (October 29, 2010). "Kevin Rader says "extremist" suporters of his opponent would make abortion illegal in all cases". Politifact. Retrieved May 9, 2014.
- Schultz, Jason (October 28, 2010). "Saying she was raped, state Senate candidate Benacquisto says rival Rader's attacks 'crossed the line'". The Palm Beach Post. Retrieved May 9, 2014.
- Derby, Kevin (July 20, 2012). "HD 81: Steve Perman and Kevin Rader Battle in Democratic Primary". Sunshine State News. Retrieved May 9, 2014.
- "Choose Perman for House District 81". Sun-Sentinel. August 11, 2012. Retrieved May 9, 2014.
- "Choose Rader and Hager". Sun-Sentinel. October 17, 2012. Retrieved May 9, 2014.
- Versteeg, Jac (October 26, 2012). "Editorial: O'Hara over Rader in Florida House District 81". The Palm Beach Post. Retrieved May 9, 2014.
- Sweeney, Dan (2016-08-30). "Rader, Clemens, Farmer win state Senate primary races". South Florida Sun Sentinel. Retrieved 2016-11-13.