Four Broward ju­di­cial races head for Novem­ber runoffs

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Local - By Rafael Olmeda Staff writer

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.

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