Okay, I think I have found a issue.
I thought a .rbf was saved in memory... so upon bootup it gets re-loaded by default.
Well I was downloading the .rbf to the target device, cycling power (thinking I needed to do that) and then running my python commands.
I found that if I load a .rbf, and don't cycle power, I can close FrontPanelGUI, start my python session, and see that when I run the "dev.IsFrontPanelEnabled()" that I finally get TRUE.
Just wanted to update on my progress....