One day in February, we sat down for a get-to-know-you interview with Scott Israel, who's running in the Democratic primary this August to challenge Al Lamberti in the Broward County sheriff's race.
Since then, his campaign has retweeted our story dozens and dozens of times -- we can't count exactly how many, because Twitter has stopped archiving the tweets. We can tell you that the Twitter counter at the top of that post reads over 800, which I would estimate makes it the most-tweeted item on our site, ever.
In fact, to go by Israel's Twitter feed, that blog post and his own website are the only two things ever written about him. A search of the Sun-Sentinel's site for "Scott Israel" yields a lot of recent stories about Palestine.
Why is that? The Broward sheriff's spot is one of the most sprawling law-enforcement jobs in the nation, and just about everyone in the county has some major stake in how the race turns out. But here in apathyland, where people often don't even know who their mayor is, the silence around the impending sheriff's race is startling.
There are a few well-connected donors and local leaders, of course, who buck the trend and know what's going on, at least with their preferred candidate. Later in February, we stopped by a fundraiser for Lamberti, where if his wealthy supporters didn't really get into the issues, at least they knew he was running for something. That's probably lost on your average voter. If the trend continues, Lamberti's in luck, because people will likely just vote for the name they've heard of.
"Having been the Democratic nominee in 2008, as I remember, there wasn't much coverage early on," says a slightly optimistic Israel. "As summer came and the election got close, there was as media blitz, a lot more coverage." We'll see if something similar happens this summer.
This is a problem in South Florida that extends beyond the sheriff's election. It covers nearly every aspect of policing, from the silence that follows deputy-involved shootings (a major event in some other cities, believe it or not) to alleged police brutality. It extends to other politicking, like Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler's shoo-in race for mayor last year. In that election, Seiler's only opposition was his perennial challenger, Earl Rynerson, who tried to ride an anti-spending wave while recruiting a straw candidate to force a primary. Doesn't exactly make civic pride course through your veins.
Meanwhile, there's still another challenger in the sheriff's race to face Israel as a Democrat in August: Louis Granteed. I called him a while ago to ask about upcoming fundraisers and never heard back.
We're partly to blame for this -- I've taken on some ambitions of tracking the sheriff's race but don't have the time to allocate to full-time hounding of candidates. The rest of the media might be busy as well, though they do what they can. Certainly one could hope that a sheriff's candidate could be inspiring enough to drum up some news of his own. And overall, here in Broward, people just don't seem to care. Which is a shame, because as it stands, the deaf will be leading the blind to the polls in a few months based on nothing more than bumper stickers and a few hundred tweets.
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