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

Port St. Lucie legal turmoil over judge elections

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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