Back in October, Donald Trump declared Mar-a-Lago his official place of residence. Now we’re all focused on sending him back to his tawdry club in Palm Beach on a full-time basis, but you know what would be even sweeter? Sending him back to a Palm Beach represented by a progressive Democrat who is absolutely his polar opposite.
Jim Bonfiglio is running to represent the 89th district in the Florida House of Representatives after a razor-thin, 32-vote loss in 2018. As Democrats gear up for a run at flipping the Florida House this year, the 89th district represents their juiciest and sweetest opportunity. Bonfiglio actually lives miles down on the same street as Trump, but everything about Bonfiglio stands in stark contrast with the greedy, corrupt, and grossly incompetent president. The comparisons are pretty direct and frankly staggering:
Example 1: Trump spent his life as a predatory landlord and dirty real estate scam artist. Bonfiglio has worked as a foreclosure defense attorney for the last 32 years, fighting tooth and nail to save people’s homes.
“It’s very satisfying, trying to help people save their homes,” Bonfiglio tells Progressives Everywhere, noting that he’s helped see through beleaguered homeowners through three financial crises, dating back to the Savings and Loan Crisis in the 1980s.
“You get people at their worst and you try to save their houses for them,” he continues. “There’s usually a good reason why they fell behind on the mortgage. Most of the time it’s medical bills, loss of job or divorce. I like to try to help people get through the bad times and get to a better part of their lives.”
Example 2: Trump has a long history of bilking employees and contractors, refusing to pay them for their hard work. Bonfiglio, meanwhile, conducts free seminars to teach young lawyers across Florida how to protect working people facing unfair foreclosure.
During the 2007 economic crisis, which walloped Florida particularly hard, Bonfiglio also hosted free walk-up clinics with volunteer attorneys so that people facing foreclosure could get advice and legal counsel, free of charge.
“People would come all day long, we’d hook up an attorney with a client, and they’d sit down and talk to them and try to figure out if there’s any way they could save their house,” he says. “When foreclosure peaked in 2007 and 2008, I’d give my whole Fridays too. People would come in every half an hour and it was always illness, job loss, divorce, and if I can’t save this house, I don’t know where I’m going to stay.”
Example 3: Trump never held elected office before, hates to read, doesn’t study issues, and gets his advice from the TV. Bonfiglio, meanwhile, has served in elected office — as a mayor, vice mayor, and commissioner — in his hometown of Ocean Ridge for over 20 years.
To hear Bonfiglio talk about the environmental issues facing the Palm Beach area and Florida as a whole, it’s clear that he studies these matters, takes them seriously, and is focused on solving them. He rattles off particulars about how he has dealt with saltwater intrusion, rising sea levels, pollution, red tide, and flooding in responsible and nonpartisan ways, earning himself election victories in what had generally been a relatively Republican town.
Bonfiglio also focuses on the smallest details of his client’s cases, leading him to deal extensively with the state’s highest courts. He’s already contributed to potential legislation that would help homeowners avoid foreclosure by changing bankruptcy laws. Right now, mortgages are not dischargeable in bankruptcy, which helped lead to the last mass crisis; he wants to change that, even if it would take a bite out of his business.
“I always ask myself is what I’m voting for going to make people’s lives easier, better, and safer?” Bonfiglio says. “And that guides my vote.”
Example 4: Trump likely won in 2016 due to voter suppression in a number of states then controlled by Republican governments, while erroneously alleging that voter fraud was used against him. Bonfiglio, meanwhile, was responsible for pushing the lawsuit that ensured that Florida — the home of voter suppression — counted all the votes in not only his super-tight election, but also the tight races for governor and US Senate that were the subject of national attention.
Meanwhile, the guy who beat Bonfiglio by just 32 votes has become a standard conservative Republican.
Mike Caruso distinguished himself in his first year on the job by voting to shut down a special session on gun regulations after the trio of mass shootings over the summer; authorize the awful modern-day Jim Crow poll tax after 65% of Floridians voted to return voting rights to citizens who had served their time in prison; ban sanctuary cities; and require parental consent for minors seeking out an abortion.
None of those votes pass the Bonfiglio standard of making people’s lives easier, better, or safer. Caruso made those decisions after winning by just 32 votes. That won’t happen again.