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Broward’s political, legal worlds in turmoil over judge elections…(From Sun-Sentinel)

Broward’s political, legal worlds in turmoil over judge elections

From Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel by Anthony Man on July 15, 2010 09:38 AM 

Judicial races are usually quiet, low-key affairs. But with an unprecedented number of candidates competing in the August election, it’s getting unpleasant out on the campaign trail. 

Most notably, this year’s Broward judicial elections feature contests in which judges actually have to face opponents – something that has the legal and political communities agitated. 

With more than 40 candidates running for judge in the Aug. 24 nonpartisan elections, it’s going to be difficult for many voters to figure out who to support. (Judicial elections, held on the same day as the Democratic and Republican primaries, are open to all registered voters.)

For months, the candidates have been in full campaign mode, heading to political clubs and participating in parades and other civic events. Often that means the judges have to sit through long political club meetings to get a minute or two to present their credentials. 

All the candidates for judge are hoping more than anything that the leaders of the county’s largest political clubs, most of which are Democratic, give them their stamps of approval and put their names on the “palm cards” that contain the instructions on who the club members are supposed to vote for.

One wrinkle this week was Broward Democratic Chairman Mitch Ceasar’s endorsing several candidates – including a Republican. He’s never before endorsed during his 14 years as party chairman.

Despite Ceasar’s endorsing a Republican, two Democrats and two no party affiliation candidates (one of whom was a Republican until recently), lots of people in the political parties are keenly aware of the political affiliations of the candidates – even though the judicial races are officially non-partisan.

And the political insiders are also keenly aware of who was appointed to the bench by former Gov. Jeb Bush (despised by most Democratic leaders) and current Gov. Charlie Crist (viewed more warmly by some of the Democrats).

Percy Johnson, former president of the Fort Lauderdale Democratic Club, said at one forum of judges and judicial candidates, some of them outed their opponents with the political kiss of death – that they were Bush appointees.

Many insiders also know, and care about, the judicial candidates’ party affiliations.

“You can’t take the politics out of politics,” Ceasar said recently – before he made his endorsement decision. “I think it [party affiliation] is relevant, but in a very minor way. Is it a major factor, and something were propagating en masse? No.”

Ed Kennedy, Broward’s state Republican committeeman, told party members at a recent meeting that they needed to band together in support of their judges.

“You know that there’s no such thing in Broward County as non-partisan,” he said. “There’s a concerted effort by Democrats to defeat each of our candidates who were appointed by Republican governors.”

“Each of our candidates was appointed by a Republican, either Jeb Bush or the other guy [a reference to Crist, who’s left the party]. Each of them was screened very properly [by a judicial nominating commission] and deserve to be on the bench and they deserve our support,” Kennedy said.

Candidates also know their party affiliations can have an impact in Broward County, where most voters are registered Democrats.

One current judge, visiting with voters at the Kings Point Democratic Club, pleaded not to have his picture posted on the Broward Politics blog with a caption identifying him as a Republican. He said it would be e-mailed among Democrats and kill him at the ballot box.

That judge is included on the list below, which includes candidates and their party affiliations. It was passed out to Democratic committeemen and committeewomen at a party meeting:

Judicial Race Candidate Party Affiliation

County Court Judge, Grp. 1 John D. Fry Qualified Democrat

County Court Judge, Grp. 1 John Robert Howes Qualified Democrat

County Court Judge, Grp. 1 Jason Allen Rosner Qualified Democrat

County Court Judge, Grp. 3 Peter Barry Skolnik Qualified Democrat

County Court Judge, Grp. 3 Debra L. Steinsaltz Qualified Democrat

County Court Judge, Grp. 4 Lloyd Harris Golburgh Qualified Democrat

County Court Judge, Grp. 4 Edward H. Merrigan, Jr. Qualified Republican

County Court Judge, Grp. 12 Melissa Beth Minsk Donoho Qualified Democrat

County Court Judge, Grp. 12 John “Jay” Hurley Qualified Republican

County Court Judge, Grp. 13 Heidi Berkowitz Qualified Democrat

County Court Judge, Grp. 13 Linda R. Pratt Qualified Democrat

County Court Judge, Grp. 14 Jordan Howard Breslaw Qualified Democrat

County Court Judge, Grp. 14 Mary Rudd Robinson Qualified Republican

County Court Judge, Grp. 15 Roshawn Banks Qualified Democrat

County Court Judge, Grp. 15 Mindy Solomon Qualified Democrat

County Court Judge, Grp. 20 Kenneth “Ken” Gottlieb Qualified Democrat

County Court Judge, Grp. 20 Steven A. Schaet Qualified Democrat

County Court Judge, Grp. 26 Mardi Anne Levey Cohen Qualified Democrat

County Court Judge, Grp. 26 Nathaniel Adam “Nate” Klitsberg Qualified Democrat

County Court Judge, Grp. 26 Olga M. Levine Redesignated Democrat

County Court Judge, Grp. 26 F. J. McLawrence Qualified Independent

County Court Judge, Grp. 26 Lee Jay Seidman Redesignated Republican

Circuit/ Group Status Primary General

017 / 002 Gillespie, Kenneth L. (NOP) *Incumbent Qualified NPA

Parker, Oliver (NOP) Qualified Republican

017 / 004 Schneider, Alan B. (NOP) Qualified Democrat

Williams, Elijah H. (NOP) *Incumbent Qualified Democrat

017 / 006 Goldstein, Frieda M. (NOP) Qualified NPA

Rodriguez, Carlos A. (NOP) *Incumbent Qualified NPA

017 / 008 Greenhawt, Susan F. (NOP) *Incumbent Qualified Democrat

017 / 009 Lebow, Susan (NOP) *Incumbent Qualified Democrat

Rafilovich, Jill Tamkin (NOP) Qualified Democrat

017 / 013 Tieman-Bristol, Hope (NOP) *Incumbent Qualified NPA

017 / 014 Haury Jr., William W. “Bill” (NOP) *Incumbent Qualified Republican

017 / 015 Destry, Matthew Isaac (NOP) *Incumbent Qualified Republican

Jakovich, Robert Abraham (NOP) Qualified Democrat

017 / 022 Nichols, Robert “Bob” (NOP) Qualified Democrat

Rebollo, Carlos (NOP) *Incumbent Qualified Democrat

017 / 023 Bernstein, Alan (NOP) Qualified Democrat

McCarthy, Barbara Anne (NOP) *Incumbent Qualified NPA

017 / 024 Levine, Olga (NOP) Qualified Democrat

Luzzo, John T. (“Jack”) (NOP) *Incumbent Qualified NPA

Rocque, Michael Joseph (NOP) Withdrew NPA

017 / 028 Imperato, Cynthia G. (NOP) *Incumbent Qualified Republican

017 / 047 Porter, Lisa (NOP) *Incumbent Qualified Independent

Seidman, Laura Renee (NOP) Qualified Republican

017 / 050 Gates, Michael L. (NOP) *Incumbent Qualified Republican

017 / 051 Perlman, Sandra (NOP) Qualified Democrat

Seidman, Lee Jay (NOP) Qualified Republican

017 / 053 O’Connor, Eileen M. (NOP) *Incumbent Qualified Democrat

Sokoloff, Rhoda (NOP) Democrat

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