Let's run down some of the election's real winners and losers:
WINNER: Judy Stern.
The lobbyist and political consultant was behind sheriff's candidate Scott Israel and Broward County Commissioner John Rodstrom, who each won squeaker races on Tuesday (or Wednesday thanks to a sluggish elections office). She also won easily with Broward Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion. That means that Stern not only retains her position as the most powerful force on the commission, but is also in very tight with the man who most likely will be sheriff of Broward County (let's face it, Lamberti has his work cut out for him).
Three Hispanic judges -- Pedro Dijols, Julio Gonzalez, and Catalina Avalos -- all lost their seats on the bench. Who'd they lose to? People with names like Feld, Bober, and Levey. The only sitting judge who prevailed is named Goldenberger. Lesson: The key to political prosperity in Broward County is still found in heavily Jewish condos. Avalos lost to Ian Richards, which sounds like a WASP name, but the unknown Richards is actually black (ha!). Now, some might say the trio of judges lost because they were Jeb Bush appointees and thus targetted by Democrats. Bah. The party isn't politically well-organized enough to pull that off in such stunning fashion. Nah, this was Joe Voter going with his xenophobic gut. Following some of this on JAABlog, the real loss here is Gonzalez, who has a reputation of being not a good judge, but a great one. In the recent Bar rankings, he was voted No. 1 in three categories: legal knowledge, courtesy and civility, and ethics and integrity. His loss is Broward County's shame.
Winner: Barbara Miller.
It's true the lobbyist ran the campaign for Richard Lemack, who barely lost to Israel in the sheriff's race. It's also true that earlier this year she ran former Hollywood Mara Giulianti's losing race to Peter Bober, a major blow to her clout. But Miller with this election managed to keep her rather unseemly stranglehold on the the Broward County School Board that she shares with fellow lobbyist Neil Sterling. Her two incumbents, Robin Bartleman and Bev Gallagher, both won, and a third Millerite, Rick Saltrick, won his way to a runoff vote against Ann Murray.
LOSER: The Sun-Sentinel.
Don't get me wrong -- this isn't a shot at the individual reporters, who generally did good work. It's that the lack of manpower brought on by layoffs and the lack of space in the new "SunSentinel" obviously took their toll. The coverage was thin. Very thin. And you wonder if the incredible shrinking newspaper is one reason that voter turnout was a paltry 11.3 percent.
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Winner: Big Health
Eleanor Sobel's victory in the state senate race bodes well for Big Health -- though the rest of us may not be so lucky. The wife of a dermatologist, she raised huge amounts of money from health care interests and doctors (see for yourself). On top of that, the Florida Medical Association jumped in with more than $1 million to slam her opponents, Tim Ryan and Ken Gottleib. Now, you want chutzpah? Sobel ran as someone who was going to look out for the little guy when it comes to prohibitive health care costs. Sobel is one of these politicians who plays musical chairs with offices (Hollywood, school board, house, now senate), but in the end nobody can figure out what the hell she's ever really done for anybody but her well-heeled backers. (By the way, who did Barbara Miller back in this race?)
I don't want to end this on a preachy note, but I guess I will. That 11.3 percent turnout rate proves once and for all just how apathetic this place is. Sure turnout will soar in November for the presidential vote, but it's ridiculous how South Floridians care so little about their hometown, state, and courthouse. When things go wrong, when their local and state tax money is wasted and pilfered, people will sit there and complain. But it's painfully obvious they have nobody to blame but themselves.