Boca Mayor Overcame Doubts About Rudy '08

The Rudy Giuliani campaign announced the support today of Steven Abrams, the mayor of the extremely wealthy beach town of Boca Raton. But Abrams wasn’t always so sure that Giuliani was serious about running.

Last month, after I followed Rudy down to Palm Beach for his pitch to the Club For Growth, I drove west to Boca and sat down with Abrams, who explained that he had harbored serious doubts early on about Giuliani’s campaign machinery in Florida.

“I was concerned at first about his lack of a campaign structure here,” said Abrams, who served as the County Chairman for Bob Dole’s 1996 presidential campaign and Jeb Bush’s 1998 campaign.

Abrams said that he “was relieved” to hear that the campaign had signed up Karen Unger, a veteran political organizer in the state, and that in February and March the campaign started raising considerable cash. “He’s raised a lot of money in Boca,” said Mr. Abrams.

Abrams said he had attended a fund-raiser for Giuliani at the nearby St. Andrews Country Club in February that was packed with very affluent donors. “I was the only one getting comped,” he said.

Mitt Romney, he said, had a sophisticated Florida organization “comprised of mainly political operatives,” but that the campaign lacked any enthusiastic support. And John McCain, Abrams said at the time, was simply “not catching on.”