Tally Lawyers Abandon Key Supporter For One Of Their Own

 

BY BUDDY NEVINS

 

 

Tallahassee trial lawyers have dumped one of their long-time supporters in the Florida House for one of their own.

State Rep. Jim Waldman, a Coconut Creek Democrat who has been a champion of legislation favorable to lawyers, has lost the backing of the Florida Justice Association for his 2016 state Senate race.

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Jim Waldman

The association and many in the Trial Bar are instead set to back Parkland lawyer Gary Farmer, a former president of the FJA.

Farmer and Waldman — two multi-millionaire lawyers – are vying for a west Broward Senate seat open in two years.

Waldman is hurt and feels betrayed by Farmer jumping in the race.

“For the past five years, I’ve been the go-to guy for the trial lawyers. I was their biggest supporter,” Waldman says.

Farmer, of Parkland, explained to Browardbeat.com why he would run against Waldman: “I’ve got the bug. I can be an effective advocate for my district and I live in the district.”

Because of the wealth of the candidates and their extensive contacts throughout Florida, the race is sure to be a drawn-out bloody contest costing millions.

Farmer is new to campaigning, but not new to politics.

 

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Gary Farmer

He has been an advocate for the legal profession in Tallahassee, including his stint as president of the FJA. The FJA consists of many lawyers who represent plaintiffs suing companies, physicians and others for wrongdoing.

Farmer, a Democrat, went to court a decade ago to fight successfully against efforts to destroy the contested ballots from the 2000 Presidential election.

“I’m passionate about civil justice issues, protecting the rights of people, protecting the rights of labor,” he says.

Farmer says it is time to give something back to the community.

With a string of multi-million dollars verdicts for clients in his pocket, Farmer will have the cash to compete politically. So will Waldman.

The former mayor of Coconut Creek, Waldman is a veteran in Broward politics. He won his House seat in 2006 after a stint on the Coconut Creek City Commission. He is the general counsel of Keiser University and comes from a family of homebuilders.

Waldman is best known in Coconut Creek as negotiating a deal requiring the Seminole Tribe to pay the city annually for services relating to their casino.  He also has proven he can work with Republicans in Tallahassee, having passed a $1 billion-a-year cigarette tax.

 

The Stakes

 

 Up for grabs is State Senate District 29’s seat, which has been held by state Sen. Jeremy Ring of Parkland since 2006. Ring is termed out in two years.

A heavily Democratic district, it runs east of the Sawgrass Expressway and south along Interstate 75 through Coconut Creek, Parkland, Miramar and portions of Deerfield Beach, North Lauderdale, Tamarac, Sunrise, Weston, Davie, Southwest Ranches and Pembroke Pines.

map of Senate District 29

 

Open Senate seats are prized. Because there are only 40 senators, each vote is more important than in the House.  Democrats have some influence in the Senate.

The Senate Republican leaders even appoint Democrats as committee chairs. Ring is chair of the Government Oversight and Accountability Committee.

So any open seat is fiercely fought over.

To give readers an idea of what’s coming in the future in District 29, the three-way 2008 campaign that propelled state Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, into the state Senate was a $2 million scorch-and-burn contest.  That was eight years ago!

 

Baggage

 

 

Farmer versus Waldman will have plenty of fodder for negative ads.

For instance, Farmer was a lawyer at jailed scam artist Scott Rothstein’s law firm for 11 months.

He was hired after winning a major whistle-blower case against a pharmaceutical company.

While at the firm, he was asked by Rothstein to make contributions to various political candidates, including Republicans.  He and his wife Stacey gave $37,000.

He fully cooperated with the federal investigations into Rothstein, he told the Miami Herald.

Waldman also has dirt in his closet.

He claimed to have lived in a manufactured home in a trailer park during the first years he was in the Legislature. He has a sprawling estate of several acres in a part of Coconut Creek, which was outside the district at the time.

Plus Waldman has eight years of votes in the Florida House. Farmer’s political operatives can surely find some votes which can be presented in an unfavorable light in ads.

 

Kristin Jacobs

 

What may further complicate this race is the rumor that it will become a three-way fight before it reaches the ballot box.  County Commissioner Kristin Jacobs may be the the third candidate.

Jacobs, who is running for the Florida House in 2014, denies she will run for the Senate in two years.

But the persistent rumor has dogged Jacobs’ House race.

 

 

Campaign Has Started

 

For now, it is just two candidates.

Farmer and Waldman met in Tallahassee last week.

“I told him I am not running against him,” Farmer said. “I’m running for an open seat.”

He said he would formally open a campaign account after the current session of the Legislature ends in May. Waldman has had an account open for the 2016 race since last year, raising just under $100,000.

Farmer didn’t let his interview with Browardbeat.com end before this thinly veiled attack:

“I don’t think only professional politicians should continue to hold office.”

Waldman has held political office since 1993.

“He had no problem coming to this ‘professional politician’ for years when he needed something done in the House,” Waldman fired back.

It’s going to be that kind of campaign…for the next two years.

 

 



10 Responses to “Tally Lawyers Abandon Key Supporter For One Of Their Own”

  1. John Henry says:

    Hmmmm. Trying to figure out why a multi-millionaire lawyer wants a $30K per year job so bad.

  2. Coconut Creek Resident & Voter says:

    Jim Waldman was a well respected Commissioner and Mayor of Coconut Creek. With overwhelming community support, he was elected into the legislative seat Ron Greenstein served until term limited. Waldman has served us well in the House and will serve us well in the Senate.

    He has always supported consumers, seniors, education and labor against big corporate interests. That is probably why he supported trial lawyers who represent little guys against big guys as well as big guys against big guys.

    In Waldman’s case, the early residency thing never mattered to me. In your own past columns you said that he actually complied with the requirements and his other house was in Coconut Creek; about 1 mile outside the past district line.

    I’d rather have a representative who has served us well for many years and knows and loves our community than someone who doesn’t know us at all, but has a lot of money. That reminds me of our current Governor.

    I’ll stick with Waldman. Thank you very much.

    Coconut Creek Resident & Voter

  3. Barry Goulds says:

    Both State Rep. Waldman and Farmer are millionaires vying for a $30K a year job.

    I am so glad that Waldman drew an opponent. It’s going to be wonderful to see him earn my vote for a change.

    In Buddy’s article Rep. Waldman says he feels” hurt and feels betrayed” by losing his key supporters from the FJA. If Rep. Waldman wants a loyal friend, he needs to get a dog.

    No one is loyal in politics. Especially attorneys.

  4. Charlotte Greenbarg says:

    This is a classic. A Rothsteiner is passionate about so many good things and so many people. And the Rothsteiner and the Florida Justice Association think he’s a great candidate.

    They’re just passionate about justice, don’t you know?

  5. Herbert G says:

    Proves that lawyers will sell out anybody.

  6. Waldman Fan says:

    Jim Waldman deserves election just for standing up to the tobacco lobbyists by getting a tax passed. The state needs money and Waldman delivered in a painless way for most of us.

  7. Oh david says:

    Love the pro Waldman posts my guess would be Dave brown as the poster or encouraged those to post.

  8. Edward Hardy says:

    “I don’t think only professional politicians should continue to hold office.”
    Farmer’s comments brings up an interesting question. Should voters choose an experienced politician like Waldman who knows the ropes in Tallahassee or a fresh face with new ideas like Farmer who would be lost initially? Each has its merits.
    I believe Farmer would have little downtime in Tallahassee because he is an experienced advocate for his client, which is similar to being an advocate for his constituents. Waldman, however, is a proven advocate for his constituents.
    Voters have two good choices.

  9. creekiewheel says:

    We need more elected officials like Jim Waldman
    He has the ability to be objective and do what is best for his constituents without bowing down to special interests
    I think to have a balanced body of representatives, you have to always have a few people like Jim

    It keeps government HONEST

  10. Lovin Jim says:

    I heard this weekend alone, Jim Waldman saved a kitten stuck in a tree, built on his own 3 habitat for humanity houses, delivered surf and turf to every homeless person in the Senate District and coached the Gators to the Final Four.

    So what can Brown do for you…

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