Four Broward judicial races head for November runoffs
When the counting was done, there was no mystery surrounding most of Broward’s judicial election races.
Four are headed to a runoff in November because none of the candidates in the non-partisan races secured more than 50 percent of the vote.
Judicial races are non-partisan, and a candidate cannot win with less than 50 percent of the vote. In the four races that had more than two candidates, the top two vote-getters will face each other in the November general election.
In the Group 38 Circuit race, attorney Stefanie Camille Moon had the most votes by far, with 43.18 percent. In second place was Jason Allen-Rosner, who secured 22.09 percent of the vote. Moon and Allen-Rosner will compete again in November. Candidates Melissa Minsk Donoho and Linda Marie Leali came in third and fourth, eliminating them from the general election ballot.
Maria Markhasin-Weekes received the most votes in the Group 46 Circuit race, with 44.64 percent. In second was her general election opponent H. James Curry, with 34.67 percent. Eliminated from the race is the candidate who came in third, assistant public defender W. Dale Miller.
Two county court races were also headed for runoffs. Circuit court judges
handle large civil cases and misdemeanors, while county court judges handle smaller claims and misdemeanors.
Attorneys Corey Amanda Cawthon and Tanner Channing Demmery finished within 1,400 votes of each other in the primary for Group 9, but neither came near the 50 percent threshold to avoid the runoff. Candidate Leonore M. Greller came in third.
In Group 19, Jackie Powell led Allison Gilman by about 9,500 votes, with attorney John “Jack” Phillips coming in third. Powell and Gilman will face each other in November. The candidate who gets the most votes on primary day is not always the one who emerges victorious in November. Turnout in the general election is typically much higher than in the primary, and there’s never a guarantee that supporters of a failed candidate will rally behind the one who finished first.
In seven of the remaining eight races there were clear winners — County Court judges Robert Diaz, Michael Davis and Robert W. Lee fought back challengers by comfortable margins. Circuit Court Judge Ernest Kollra also defeated a challenger, though his margin of victory was less than one percent.
They will be joined on the bench by first-time Circuit Court judges Dan Casey, Susan Lynn Alspector and Shari Beth Africk-Olefson.
At the end of the week there was uncertainty about one race — Broward Circuit Judge Michael Usan was trailing challenger Richard Kaplan by 741 votes on Tuesday night.
By the end of Wednesday, with more absentee ballots counted, Usan was ahead slightly. As of Friday morning, Usan led by just 337 votes, a margin slim enough to trigger an automatic recount.
If the numbers in that race hold up, all incumbent judges will have survived the primary with their jobs intact.
A judicial term lasts six years.
In 2018, retirements and resignations have led to 13 judges leaving office so far, with seven retiring at the end of their current terms on Dec 31.