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Condos Give Gottlieb a Narrow Win

The Miami Herald

Thursday, February 19, 1998
© The Miami Herald

 

 

(See end of story for analysis.)

By ANNE MARTINEZ and NEIL REISNER

  Ken Gottlieb, state House representative-elect, spent much of Wednesday on street corners in western Pembroke Pines and Hallandale thanking voters for their support in the county's shortest political campaign.

  Nowhere was the gratitude more deserved than in Century Village, the Pembroke Pines retirement community that secured Gottlieb's victory by accounting for about two of every five votes cast throughout the district that spans from Hallandale to Southwest Broward's western-most stretches.

  Without the votes from Century Village, Gottlieb would have lost the election to opponent Irma Cohen by 84 votes.

  "Mr. Gottlieb will learn to love us,'' said Jerry Feldman, president of the Century Village Democratic Club. "Condominiums love to vote. They wake up in the morning and they feel the civic responsibility to go out and vote.''

  The community, with more than 9,000 registered voters, historically is a driving force behind elections.

  Its impact, however, was more pronounced Tuesday because of the exceedingly low turnout throughout House District 101. Only 3,971 of about 42,000 eligible Democratic voters (9 percent) cast ballots in the race necessitated when incumbent Steve Geller declared his candidacy for a vacant Senate seat. Of those, 1,524 came from Century Village.

  But even in the retirement community, turnout was low. About 21 percent of its eligible voters went to the polls, compared to a 28 percent turnout in the regular House 101 election in 1996.

  That's good news for Gottlieb, who can count on a bigger turnout in the community when he runs for the seat again this fall during the regular election.

Although Gottlieb's support was widespread -- he won 35 of 54 precincts -- he failed to capture support from predominantly minority and blue-collar communities, such as the unincorporated Broward neighborhoods of Carver Ranches and Utopia, as well as eastern Miramar, South Central Hollywood and western Hallandale.

  "I'm definitely going to reach out to the neighborhoods where I didn't do well,'' Gottlieb, 34, said.

  An analysis of voting patterns showed a deeply divided electorate. Where Cohen won, she won by huge margins. Where Gottlieb won, he dominated.

Focusing on what she calls ``forgotten areas,'' Cohen captured 87 percent in the precincts where she surpassed Gottlieb.

  "We walked around in neighborhoods that nobody would touch,'' said Cohen, 46, adding that Gottlieb lacks ties in the district's black communities.

Fund-raising disparity

  Gottlieb fueled his campaign with hefty donations from attorneys, developers and political action committees. In less than a month, he raised almost $93,000, more than five times Cohen's funding.

  Much of that money was used for mail fliers, palm cards and even voter gifts -- rubber jar openers. Bob Brooks, a Century Village resident, said that although the fliers and gifts were not the determining factor in the community, the aggressive campaigning did help.

  "[Cohen] didn't have the money to campaign,'' Brooks said. "It had to have an impact.''

  Cohen, president of the Democratic Black Caucus who raised $18,000, said Gottlieb would not have won without the hefty war chest.

  "If he had to operate with $20,000 and I operated with $18,000, I would've whipped him 10-to-1,'' said Cohen, who may run against Gottlieb again.

Key issue: School crowding

Gottlieb, who takes office March 17 after Geller, a Pembroke Pines Democrat, steps down, said he plans to spend the upcoming weeks getting better acquainted with the district and colleagues in Tallahassee. There were no Republican candidates.

One of the first issues Gottlieb said he plans to tackle is school crowding.

  "Most of the money we've allocated will only be for the next three years for new schools,'' he said.

Herald staff writer Corey Dade contributed to this report.

 

 

CENTURY VILLAGE WEIGHS IN

  Century Village comprises only five of 54 precincts in House District 101. But voters there represent 17 percent of the district's eligible voters and cast a whopping 38 percent of the votes in the election, with a 21 percent turnout.

  Overall, Ken Gottlieb turned out 10.3 percent of the eligible voters in the precincts he carried. Irma Cohen brought out 7.4 percent of the vote in the precincts she won.

  Outside of Century Village, Cohen took 52 percent of the vote and would have won the election by 84 votes were it not for the retirement community's voters.

  Both Cohen and Gottlieb won decisively in the areas they carried. In the 35 precincts Gottlieb carried, he received 83 percent of the vote; Cohen won 87 percent of the ballots in the precincts she won.

 

 

 

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