WEST PALM BEACH – Declaring that "truth always beats the lies," a jubilant Dave Aronberg took the stage before hundreds of Democratic supporters Tuesday night and said he can't wait to get started as the next State Attorney in Palm Beach County.
"We will make Palm Beach County the safest it can possibly be," Aronberg said to a gathering of the county's most prominent Democrats at the Embassy Suites on Belvedere Road, where hundreds of county Dems gathered to cheer on local candidates and watch the national results come in.
With Aronberg, 41, opening a wide lead over Republican opponent Dina Keever at 9 p.m., the Palm Beach County Democratic Party called him the victor over Keever and independent candidate Robert Gershman, 46, a longtime Boca Raton criminal defense attorney.
Aronberg, a former state senator who represented the 27th District (parts of Palm Beach, Glades, Hendry and Charlotte counties) from 2002 to 2010, said his campaign team was able to pull off the victory by staying positive amid a spate of negative media coverage. He alluded to those reports with defiance.
"This election proves that truth will always beat the lies," he said to loud cheers.
Asked afterward what he meant by the statement, the state attorney-elect said he was referring to media reports that questioned his ethics. For his part, Aronberg has maintained the reports, cited in the campaign by Keever, were full of false accusations and that his ethics remain unblemished.
"You know, the negative campaigning has become worse than ever in our political culture and there's been so many false accusations, but we stayed true to ourselves and held our heads high and stayed positive," Aronberg said.
His first job? Aronberg said he'll work to create a transition team that will bring the changes he wants to see at the office: higher conviction rates, lower turnover of talented prosecutors, better training, better relationships with the Florida Attorney General's Office of Statewide Prosecution and the United States Attorney's Office.
"I think now we can take this ship in a better direction," Aronberg said.
Among the high-profile supporters to congratulate Aronberg after the victory was Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw.
"I'll work with anybody, doesn't matter who it is," Bradshaw said after Aronberg's victory speech. "Whoever the next state attorney is, which is obviously going to be Mr. Aronberg, will do good things."
Keever, 50, a former federal prosecutor who has worked in Miami and Philadelphia, had framed herself as the experienced, ethical-minded choice to root out corruption in the county. Gershman, with his extensive trial experience, positioned himself as somebody who who could steer the office through whatever future challenge it may face.
In the end, their fundraising efforts couldn't match those of Aronberg. Campaign finance reports filed Nov. 1 showed a clear disparity, with Aronberg amassing $726,738.50 in contributions and spending $703,737.74.
The Keever campaign reports listed $136,187.67 in financial contributions, $50,500.00 in loans, and $168,611.32 in spending.
Gershman's campaign raised $34,595.00 in financial contributions and $43,005.00 in loans. The Gershman campaign spent $38,566.73.