Broward Primary: Races You Should Know About Before Voting
Photo by Whitney via Flickr cc
As you may very well know, Tuesday is the big Primary Elections Day. And while it's not superfancy like November elections, it's pretty damned important. Mainly because Tuesday will decide who faces whom come November, when things start to get real.
Primary days usually have low turnout, but it's still an important day for many candidates looking to get on the ballot and challenge incumbents and unseat the establishment.
There are plenty of local races going down (you can see a fill list of each race here).
But there are some particular races you should be aware of, particularly races featuring some savory and not-so-savory characters. These are people vying for powerful positions who could very well be making policy decisions for us all in the coming years. It's important to get the full scoop rather than just punching in the names of people you've never heard of so you can get out of the voting booth as fast as possible.
Some are known to be racists, others have been busted for driving while under the influence, while others are just plumb crazy.
So here are several Broward races you should know about before you cast your vote on Tuesday:
Governor of Florida
Charlie Crist (D): Crist, of course, is the former Republican governor of Florida turned Democrat. He's also the overwhelming favorite to win the primary while Nan Rich has been largely ignored by the media. Crist has pretty much ignored Rich throughout the entire campaign cycle.
Nan Rich (D): Rich has gone around telling anyone who would listen (mostly, nobody) that she's an actual Democrat and always has been. That is, she was pro-choice before Crist was and so on. Weirdly, Rich just might actually be the best candidate out of all three running for governor. But we'll never know because Crist v. Scott has vastly greater potential to be our state's very own crazy reality show.
Perry Thurston (D): Thurston, like his opponent, is looking to be the guy who unseats incumbent AG Pam Bondi. Also like his opponent, Thurston is not very well-known. So here goes: Thurston, an African-American, is a four-term member of the Florida House of Representatives, is the minority leader, and his been an outspoken opponent toward Rick Scott's waffling over the Affordable Care Act and his wanting to drug-test all state workers. Like George Sheldon, Thurston hasn't raised much money and would be a big underdog against Bondi in November. But all indications are he'd make a pretty strong run at it.
George Sheldon (D): Sheldon has an extensive résumé in public service, including assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families, deputy state attorney general, and legislator. Like Thurston, he's opposed Bondi pal Rick Scott's policies. He's also called out Bondi on her "lack of oversight of utility companies."
Both men have similar campaign promises. Neither has made much noise during this campaign season. It's looking more and more like this primary battle really should just be called Guy Who Will Eventually Lose to Pam Bondi in November.
Representative in Congress, 23rd Congressional District
Joseph "Joe" Kaufman (R): The real name that sticks out in this race is Kaufman, mostly because he's made himself a name for being a little nuts. Also, he's been accused of being racist. Mainly because he dislikes Muslims. Like, really, really dislikes Muslims.
Also, he once accidentally shot himself looking in the mirror.
Juan Garcia (R): Garcia is pretty much none of the things Kaufman is. By all accounts, he seems like a nice guy, has enthusiasm for public service, and, probably most important, isn't Joe Kaufman.
Representative in Congress, 20th Congressional District
Alcee Hastings (D): The incumbent, Hastings is a former judge who has been in Congress since 1993 and has been caught up in a flood of controversy throughout his tenure. Among his more egregious wrongdoings: a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a staffer on 2011 and being caught using taxpayer money to pay for a Lexus sedan in 2008. The sexual harassment case was eventually dismissed.
Jameel McCline (D): McCline is the former heavyweight boxer who has had a bit of a troubled campaign from the get-go. Most recently, he was caught on video losing his cool on his daughter's ex-boyfriend and the kid's mother. McCline used a homophobic slur in the video, something he apologized for and spoke to New Times about. "It is regrettable that I used that word," he said. "I'm not homophobic; I have two nieces that are gay. And I'm sorry I used such a horrible word that is beneath me and the office that I seek. I'm sorry about that. I really am."
McCline went on to explain his relationship with his daughter's ex-boyfriend, saying he took him in and helped him and his mother.
"I took him in when no one else would," McCline told New Times. "I bought his mother an SUV; I paid $3,000 in dental work for the kid, whose mouth was a mess. I even got him a $57,000 scholarship for a preparatory school in Connecticut."
Jean L. Enright (D): Enright, meanwhile, seems like the candidate here without issues and someone who seems genuinely interested in getting things done without bringing any extra baggage to the job. She, like McCline, probably has no shot at unseating Hastings.
Circuit Judge, Circuit 17
Lynn Rosenthal: Back in May, Rosenthal was busted for driving her SUV into a parked police cruiser inside the courthouse parking lot. He was also in a bit of a fender bender moments before that accident.
Rosenthal, it turns out, was on Ambien when she was driving that morning.
According to the police report, Rosenthal admitted to investigators that she had taken the prescription sleeping pill the night before her accident.
While in jail, Rosenthal cited a Florida statute that protects her from having her mug shot available for public view. She scribbled her request with a pen on paper with a BSO lieutenant as a witness.
Frantz "Jahra" McLawrence: A former Navy man, McLawrence worked for the Broward County Public Defender's Office before starting his own general practice in 2006. He was recently endorsed by the Miami Herald over Rosenthal.
More important, probably: McLawrence has never taken Ambien and crashed into a parked cop car.
School Board Member, District 1
Ann Murray: Murray is a former Broward School Board transportation department supervisor running for reelection for the Broward School Board. She's also famous for being superracist in a conversation about Sun Life Stadium.
Back in 2007, a year before her election to the School Board, Murray's allegedly used the N-word while describing the cheap seats at Sun Life Stadium.
While speaking to a fellow supervisor, Murray was overheard saying, "Do you remember when a group of us from transportation came down to watch a Bills game?" Murray said, according to Lisa Spince's written statement. "Yeah, they had us up in nigger heaven."
When the remarks became public, the chairwoman of the Democratic Black Caucus of Broward County, Freda Stevens, called Murray to clear the air and get a public apology.
Murray, Stevens said, went on a rant trying to explain why she used the term and went on to say she had "black blood" in her family.
"You all do not know if I have black blood in my family," Stevens said Murray told her over the phone. "I cannot make up for what happened 400 years ago. I know that some of you all are just sensitive, but I have been called names, whitey and honky. I just brushed it off."
Murray, 71, eventually apologized for the comment.
Felicia Mychele Brunson: Brunson is Murray's challenger. She's also African-American. Brunson challenged Murray on her N-word comments during a meeting with the Sun Sentinel's editorial board last month.
"If you can make a remark like that about African-Americans, you can make it about any other minority group," Brunson told the paper. "It was totally insensitive and something that should not be tolerated."
Murray defended herself, telling the board that she doesn't use the N-word, except for in this one case, and that it was likely because of her poor upbringing in her native Boston.
County Commissioner, District 8
Barbara Sharief (D): Sharief, who became Broward County's first black female mayor last year, became infamous for getting caught overbilling Medicaid nearly half a million dollars between 2007 and 2011.
She eventually settled, agreeing to pay $588,889, including the amount she was overpaid, as well as almost $100,000 in fines.
An ethics complaint had been fined against Sharief, saying she failed to disclose assets and filed conflicting information about her own income in state and county filings.
Alexandra Davis (D): Miramar Vice Mayor Alexandra Davis was first elected to the Miramar commission in 2010. She's said she hopes to implement youth apprenticeship programs and countywide initiatives if elected.
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