Florida state Rep. Mike Caruso competing with real estate agent Jane Justice in GOP District 87 race

·4 min read
The two-week early voting period, which runs through Aug. 21, began Monday at 21 locations in Palm Beach County.
The two-week early voting period, which runs through Aug. 21, began Monday at 21 locations in Palm Beach County.

Two Republicans – state legislator Mike Caruso and real estate agent Jane Justice – are competing in the Aug. 23 GOP primary for the right to face Democrat Sienna Osta this November in District 87 of Florida's House of Representatives.

Osta, a 35-year-old lawyer, has no Democratic opponent in the primary.

Caruso, a 63-year-old certified public accountant, had represented District 89 in the Florida House since 2018. But redistricting – a redrawing of district lines every decade after each census – shrank District 89 and moved it west, away from the coastal Palm Beach County strip Caruso had represented.

Now that strip, which stretches from Juno Beach in the north and takes in coastal sections of Riviera Beach, West Palm Beach and Lake Worth Beach, will be the new District 87. And Caruso wants to continue to represent the residents who live there.

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Justice, a 66-year-old political newcomer, stands in his way.

A self-described "ultra-MAGA" Republican, Justice has made an issue of the fact that the Republican Party of Palm Beach County's Executive Committee censured Caruso after the lawmaker endorsed a Democrat in her race for a House seat.

Florida House 87 District
Florida House 87 District

Caruso noted that there are not many elected Republicans in heavily Democratic Palm Beach County.

A look at the two candidates:

State Rep. Mike Caruso
State Rep. Mike Caruso

Mike Caruso

Age and residence: 63; listed in records as a Delray Beach resident, though Caruso's campaign website includes a link to a Florida Politics story reporting that he planned to move north.

Top campaign priorities: Caruso has described himself as a moderate Republican who backs small business and is deeply involved in his community. "He wants to work with the community to make real change," his campaign website states. "He understands that lasting change can only come from increased communication and a willingness to get things done. If we work together, we can see real change in Palm Beach County."

Professional history: Certified public accountant; owner of CPA firm Caruso and Caruso.

Political background: Elected in 2018 to represent District 89 in the Florida House; re-elected in 2020.

Education: BBA, accounting, George Washington University.

Criminal history: None.

Endorsements: Associated Industries of Florida; National Federation of Independent Business; Fraternal Order of Police; BizPac of Palm Beach County.

Finances: Raised $145,275 through July 22, with much of it coming from business interests including sugar, pharmaceutical, medical and dental groups and Disney. The Republican Party of Florida has contributed at least $20,650.

Social media presence: Caruso has a campaign webpage, a Facebook account and a Twitter account, where he has tweeted about his political endorsements and the state's sales tax holiday.

Jane Justice
Jane Justice

Jane Justice

Age and residence: 66; Greenacres

Top campaign priorities: Support for the Second Amendment, opposition to mask and vaccine mandates and support of Gov. Ron DeSantis. "We are so lucky that we have Governor DeSantis here in Florida!" her campaign website states. "But he can’t do it alone, and Jane Justice is running to be a reliable supporter of his economic agenda and every other policy issue. Jane Justice is with the Governor 100%."

Professional history: Has worked in farming, as a waitress, a beautician and a real estate agent.

Political background: Has not previously run for political office.

Education: Attended Burlington Community College in New Jersey.

Criminal history: None.

Endorsements: Conservative Watch USA of Marion County.

Finances: Justice had raised $14,900 through July 22. She loaned her campaign $9,000 and has not received party or political action committee contributions.

Social media: Justice's campaign has a website, a Facebook account and a Twitter account, where she has re-tweeted posts criticizing President Biden, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats. She has re-tweeted posts mocking gender fluidity and first lady Jill Biden, shown in a post wearing a dress with tacos at the bottom instead of lace, an allusion to Biden flubbing an attempt to compliment Latinos during a speech to an advocacy group in July.

Wayne Washington covers West Palm Beach, Riviera Beach and race relations. E-mail tips to wwashington@pbpost.com.

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Primary election: Two Republicans vying for redrawn House District 87