In six-way GOP race, vote for the one who favors fair elections | Endorsement

Six Republican candidates have filed against first-term Democratic Rep. Jared Moskowitz in the 23rd Congressional District in Broward and Palm Beach counties.

The Broward-Palm Beach county 23rd Congressional District, went into effect in the 2022 elections.

The Broward-Palm Beach county 23rd Congressional District, went into effect in the 2022 elections.

Moskowitz won by about five points against grassroots GOP activist Joe Budd in 2022. President Biden’s problems could depress Democratic turnout and make for a tighter race in November.

A Republican nominee with appeal to independents, who make up nearly 30% of the district, has a fighting chance.

That candidate is a political unknown. He’s Joe Thelusca, a minority business consultant and Seventh Day Adventist clergyman who’s presently not preaching. We recommend his nomination in the Aug. 20 primary.

He’s on the right side of an issue that’s more dangerous than anything since the Civil War: Donald Trump’s false claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him.

In our candidate questionnaire, Thelusca wrote: “I abide by the democratic process and respect the legitimacy of Joe Biden’s victory.”

“Despite personal preferences or partisan allegiances,” he elaborated, “it is crucial to acknowledge and accept the outcome of a fair and transparent election. The democratic foundation of our nation relies on the peaceful transition of power based on the will of the people.”

Thelusca, 48, of Boca Raton, is a rarity in today’s Republican Party. He supports universal background checks on gun purchases as “a crucial tool to ensure that firearms do not end up in the wrong hands.” He opposes an assault weapons ban.

Gary Barve and Joseph “Joe” Kaufman are the only other candidates in this primary who returned our questionnaires and took part in online interviews.

Barve, who does not report any employment, is a pro-Trump extremist who claims Trump “won in a landslide” and vows to support anything Trump wants. He would make an exceptionally poor congressman.

Kaufman voiced doubts about the 2020 election but disagrees that Trump won by a landslide. A counterterrorism writer, researcher and lecturer, he ran unsuccessfully against U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz in a different district six years ago.

Darlene Cerezo Swaffar, an insurance broker, answered our questionnaire with some thoughtful observations on the environment but made clear that she’s an election denier, too.

Neither Carla Spalding, who lost to Wasserman Schultz in 2020, nor Robert Weinroth, a former Democratic mayor and commissioner in Palm Beach County, submitted questionnaires or attended our interview. Weinroth supported Moskowitz last time before jumping ship to the GOP.

Thelusca, 48, immigrated from Haiti at age 13, speaking no English. He acclimated quickly in New Jersey and was elected to a school board in Irvington at age 20. He held a parole commission post when Christine Todd Whitman was governor in the 1990s.

He’s running for Congress “because I am passionate about making changes in the lives of the residents of this district,” particularly on property insurance costs, traffic and housing affordability. Those are mostly state responsibilities, but Thelusca insists Congress has a duty to intervene “when people are hurting.”

He sympathizes with Haitians fleeing his native land, but not with attempts to immigrate illegally, and does not oppose Florida’s use of state agents to intercept them. He says the Biden administration “has miserably failed the people of Haiti” by not doing more to muster international economic assistance.

He did not acknowledge Biden’s role in promoting the international police force, led by Kenya, that arrived in Haiti June 25.

The Sun Sentinel Editorial Board consists of Opinion Editor Steve Bousquet, Deputy Opinion Editor Dan Sweeney, editorial writer Martin Dyckman and Editor-in-Chief Julie Anderson. Editorials are the opinion of the Board and written by one of its members or a designee. To contact us, email at