Congresswoman Joyce Kaufman – Is It Possible?

With a strong following among the tea party movement and a favorite among conservative Republicans, WFTL-AM 850 talk show host Joyce Kaufman is “seriously considering” a run for Congress.  Are U.S. Representatives Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL20) or Ted Deutch (D-FL19) potential targets or is Joyce Kaufman seeking another south Florida Congressional seat?

Appearing last week at Wing’s Plus in Coral Springs – a popular meeting place of politicians from local council seats to the President of the United States – Kaufman teased the crowd about the possibility.  Kaufman, 57, an independent registered with no party affiliation, described herself as a “straight, evangelical, Hispanic with a Jewish heritage.”

As a weekday talk show host on WFTL-AM 850, Kaufman can be heard throughout South Florida from noon until 3 pm or by streaming audio at http://www.joycekaufman.com.

During the 2010 campaign cycle, Kaufman was passionately involved in Lt. Col. Allen West’s successful campaign for Florida’s Congressional District 22, having him as a regular guest on The Joyce Kaufman Show and frequently promoting him on the campaign trail.  Following the election, West picked Kaufman as his chief of staff.

That idea dissipated after Kaufman was attacked by the left on MSNBC for a campaign season Internet video that showed her attempting to rally tea party supporters with the line, “if ballots don’t work, bullets will.”  Both Kaufman and her supporters said the comment was taken out of context.

Appearing last Wednesday at a political gathering of about 60 people, Kaufman said she has been politically busy this year.  “I’ve been running around Broward County, Palm Beach County and Dade County, because apparently since I was so instrumental, according to the newest congressman from Congressional District 22 [West] in getting him elected, everybody wants me to get them elected now.

“I’ve been spending every waking hour trying to track down who’s going to fund congressional campaigns and senatorial campaigns for those of us here in the state of Florida. Were’ looking to make more changes and trust me it has been a daunting task.

“And unfortunately, the number one response that I get no matter who I ask or what I ask for is I’ll support you if you run. Now I want to put to rest any rumors about the running for Congress in his upcoming election – for now.

“I remain unconvinced that it would be a good thing for me to go to Washington, and since God chose to snatch that out of my hands one time last year, I rethought my plan. But nonetheless I leave my options open. Of course you can’t be on talk radio and run for office, and you know I can’t shut up.”

Kaufman was an invited speaker at the Wings Plus gathering of supporters to hear Herman Cain, a presidential candidate who also enjoys a strong tea party following.

Following the event, Kaufman would not comment other than to say she is “seriously considering” a run for Congress.  As a radio talk show host, Kaufman must be careful as she cannot be a congressional candidate and talk show host simultaneously.

“Joyce cannot run for Congress and stay on the radio,” stated Brian Craig, the warm-up act to AM 1470 WWNN talk show host Steve Kane, on April Fool’s Day.  “This has to be some sort of April Fool’s joke.”

Kaufman lives in the 19th Congressional District, where the incumbent is U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton.  She indicated that if she were to run, it may or may not be against Deutch in that district. “That I’m not going to say, “she said. “We don’t know what the districts are going to look like and we don’t know which Democrats might chose not to run.”

Does that mean Joyce Kaufman is eyeing the seat of Debbie Wasserman Schultz in Florida’s Congressional District 20, Ted Deutch’s in CD-19, or some other south Florida seat?  Kaufman indicated that only four people – her children and their spouses – would influence her decision, a decision which she said would make over the summer.

On WFTL-AM 850, and as quoted by Anthony Man in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Kaufman spoke of her intentions for public office.

“When you have the kind of public profile that I’ve had for 20 years in this market, you don’t just say hey I’m going to run for office and invent myself. You exist, there’s a public record of things you’ve said, positions you’ve taken, places you’ve been, people you know. That comes into play, that is so distinct from any other person running for office.

“I have a family. I have people who would be very impacted by my decision, so I will not make the decision lightly.  I’m not going to do it as a farce or a fluke. I’m not going to say, you know I could win, I should just run. I could go sit up in Congress. Why not? But that’s not the way I make any decision.

“Everything will be carefully considered and you need to know that I have not ruled it out. But I have not ruled it in. I am very happy where I am doing what I’m doing. And that must count for something. But I’m also very worried about my country. I’m very concerned that we are not raising up strong candidates all over this country….

“And I have to tell you if it would mean getting neutered, I’m not interested. If it would mean that Joyce would become some sort of go along to get along, have to join a party, all this stuff, I don’t know.

“The first serious consideration I have to make, what the heck to I run as. I’m not a Republican. I don’t know that I should be given the Republican nomination if there are Republican contenders. People who have been lifelong Republicans, one would assume that they should be eligible, and maybe even have an edge in getting that nomination. And I have at this moment in time, you can ask anyone you know I have no intention of becoming a member of a party. The only party I am a member of is the tea party.

“I don’t’ want to upset anybody, and I also don’t want to get people too excited, because I know that my supporters out there they’re chomping at the bit, they want nothing more than to start work on a campaign. And I love you for that, I really do, because it’s not just me it’s the country that you love so dearly….

“If I decide to run then there’s nothing … they can throw at me…. I have the thickest skin of anybody that I have ever met. I repel bullets.”

Whether votes can be secured in her chosen district is something Joyce Kaufman should consider before walking away from her radio career.  Name recognition and a following in south Florida might be helpful from an ID standpoint but whether those same supporters will step up financially against those currently in office is yet to be seen.

Kaufman’s broad following may not be as big an advantage as she may think.  This is especially so when Rush Limbaugh shares the same noon to 3 pm time slot as “The Joyce Kaufman Show.”

Rico Petrocelli is a former Plantation Councilman and current Executive Director of the Republican Party of Broward County, Florida.