BY BUDDY NEVINS
Now that Circuit Judge Lynn Rosenthal is running for re-election while facing a DUI, she should:
(a) Drop out of her re-election campaign immediately, or
(b) Stop making political appearances, but pour money into an ad campaign, or
(c) Go on as before, but preface each meeting with an apology.
Judge Lynn Rosenthal: Four different views on how to handle her campaign from experts (Photo: Tamaractalk.com and Coralspringstalk.com)
That’s the views of four political strategists who have advised Broward County judicial campaigns, but are not working in Rosenthal’s race against challenger Franz “Jahra” McLawrence.
Rosenthal told police she was hung over from Ambien, a powerful sleeping medicine, when she crashed her car on the Interstate, left the scene and later hit a police vehicle outside the courthouse.
One question: Why did Rosenthal take a breathalyzer, but refused a urine and blood test? Was she hiding something other than Ambien?
Before the campaign, Rosenthal was heavily favored.
Rosenthal’s campaign had roughly $150,000 in the bank as of April 30. McLawrence had less than $200.
“This will blow over,” one consultant opined. “She has to do a mea culpa and move on….There are an awful lot of seniors who are on prescription drugs who will understand her story (and) who (also) had a bad reaction to a drug. This election is in the primary and seniors make up a substantial group of the votes….
“She needs to say the incident made me more human, made me understand what affects peoples’ lives.”
Another political strategist vehemently disagreed.
“She needs to drop out immediately,” the strategist said. “Everywhere she goes from now people will be asking her about the DUI, or at least thinking it…. If she was taking Ambien because she was stressed from the campaign, wait until she goes out (now) with this overshadowing everything. This is a woman with $7 million who doesn’t need the job.”
(Rosenthal actually has a net worth of $3.777 million and an annual income of just over $224,000 from her judicial salary and investments.)
Two other strategists said that Rosenthal should take a great deal of money and use it for an ad campaign.
One explained: “Judicial candidates get absolutely no attention. Rosenthal has already gotten more attention – all of it negative – than any in recent years and it will continue to drip out through the primary. She has got to offset it (with mail and TV ads)…
“My bet would still be on her if this is handled right. She is a well-spoken Jewish female running against, frankly, a guy with a foreign sounding name. That gives her a big advantage. Ads that say she is sorry and has learned a lesson and then moves on to her resume….
“That could do it for her, since the other guy will have a real problem attacking without looking like he is beating up on a woman. He won’t have enough money to get much of a message out so he’ll have to continue relying on negative stories in the press (and on TV).”
Another consultant agreed: “I would keep her off the (campaign) trail and run a media campaign. People underestimate the value of TV spots in a campaign like this. I would put her on the air in beautiful TV spots where we could address the issue in our own terms and move on.”
What do you think?
According to a source at the Weston Bar legal forum on Thursday, a day after her arrest:
“Rosenthal walked into and worked that room like nothing happened. She gave a good speech. More important, McLawrence looked like he saw a ghost. The man with the big mouth on tv about how everyone should be treated equal etc, said nothing about the arrest. It is obvious McLawrence is a big man when she is not around but cowers in her presence. This race is all Rosenthal.”