BY BUDDY NEVINS
County Judge Ian Richards has a target on his back.
Members of the Broward Hispanic Bar and other courthouse figures are talking revenge against Richards for defeating incumbent Judge Catalina Avalos in 2008. They have found a potential candidate to run against him next year.
Judge Ian Richards
Avalos was one of three judges with Spanish-sounding names who were beaten that year.
With a name that sounds like an upper class Englishman, Richards largely hid his African-American heritage from white voters, according to sources.
That won’t be the case this time. Anti-Richards forces already have a possible candidate: A Fort Lauderdale lawyer with a Jewish-sounding name
Jonathan Kasen is coy about any race against Richards at this point.
But he says he is interested in a seat on the bench. He recently was interviewed by the Judicial Nominating Commission for a seat that opened when Judge Susan Aramony died.
“I am entertaining (running for office). I haven’t made any decision yet. I interested in seeing a better judiciary…I’ve been talking to people with the same interests in a better judiciary,” Kasen said.
Does that mean a race against an incumbent Judge Richards?
“I am interested in seeing a better judiciary….”
Sounds like what journalists call a non-answer answer. He’s saying “yes,” but giving himself enough wiggle room to say “No” if things don’t work out.
Regardless of what he finally decides, Kasen has sellable credentials: He worked five years in Public Defender Al Schreiber’s office and is now in private practice. He is best known in the media for handling parts of the civil and criminal case against Casey Anthony.
Running against an incumbent judge is never easy.
Richards has some name ID and now has friends in the courthouse. He even made international news when he jumped off the bench and restrained a defendant who attacked a witness.
His most fervent support will come from black Bar members, who have long argued that there are not enough judges who look like them. Expect the black political community to defend Richards to the last vote.
Broward County Hispanic Bar Association President Lorena Mastrarrigo points out that the organization is non-partisan, non-profit and never endorses candidates.
“When Catalina (Avalos) ran, we couldn’t get involved as an organization,” she said.
That doesn’t stop members — with the exception of Hispanic Bar board members — from campaigning for judicial candidates….like Kasen.
With Hispanic Bar members on one side and black Bar members on the other, this one could get ugly.
A courthouse source said: “The wheels are rolling. There are some major players telling him he can win.”
The problem is these same “major players” backed Avalos to the tune of more than $88,000, compared to Richards’ roughly $2,800*.
And we know how that one came out.
* Avalos raised over $88,000, but spent a total of almost $174,000. The rest of the money came from her and in-kind contributions. Richards raised just under $2,800, but spent roughly $25,000. The rest came from him and in-kind contributions.