BY BUDDY NEVINS
She hardly campaigned. She had half the money. She had little establishment support. The entire Democratic Party machine was arrayed against her.
School Board member Donna Korn was even appointed by the hated Gov. Rick Scott.
Still, Korn apparently managed to pull off an amazing upset against the bluest of blue Democrats, former House Democratic Leader Franklin Sands.
It is stunning she even got close.
But 30,000 absentee ballots remain uncounted.
However, there is no reason to believe Sands could make up almost 12,000 votes or that these results after counting these ballots would be dramatically different than the rest of the count.
Regardless, Korn ran one of the most astonishing races in Broward I can remember.
Despite President Barack Obama’s overwhelming victory in Broward, the Republican Korn on Wednesday remained ahead by roughly 12,000 votes.
To say she had no campaign is no overstatement.
Her organization, was so broke it could barely afford signs. Her supporters complained that Korn attend enough campaign events.
It was so bad that the campaign’s original consultant quit before the primary.
But the campaign had three things going for it:
- A gallant effort by Property Appraiser Lori Parrish, who promoted Korn where she went and opened up her network of contacts for the candidate.
- A group of dedicated volunteers, whose mainstay was Fort Lauderdale-based school activist Mary Fertig. With little money the campaign had to fall back on free grass roots efforts, like extensive e-mail campaigns and friend-to-friend letters.
- Franklin Sands, who was widely believed to only looking for any public office to land in after being term limited out of his Tallahassee job. That image was fueled by Sands himself: He dickered with running for Broward commission before deciding on the School Board.
I hate to write it because he’s a friend, but this one is another blow to well-known consultant David Brown.
Brown lost his big county commission race two years ago when his candidate Steve Geller got creamed by County Commissioner Sue Gunzburger. He apparently got beaten this time despite that Sands’ campaign was fueled by bundles of special interest money and had a Democratic label.
The best Brown can claim, if the absentees turns this around, is that he narrowly avoided losing. Not particularly good results for outspending Korn three-to-one.
But let’s not lay too much blame on Brown. It is very hard to put lipstick on a pig.
Sands had no experience with the public schools.
And the voters wisely decided that Sands, 72, would be better off with shuffle board for his retirement years than a public paid job, pension and medical benefits on the School Board.
Revenge: Lamberti’s Loss
Sheriff Al Lamberti’s loss also surprised insiders. He was beaten for three reasons:
- Revenge. Lamberti picked a fight with Commissioner Sue Gunzburger two years ago by launching an ill-conceived and highly political investigation into her weeks before her re-election. The unwarranted investigation was dropped, but Gunzburger’s son, political strategist Ron Gunzburger, has a long memory. He volunteered to work on Israel’s campaign from behind-the-scenes and shaped many of the attack messages that led to voters questioning Lamberti’s integrity.
- Lackluster campaign. Lamberti never adequately answered the charges Israel’s campaign leveled against him. This included the devastating but true accusations of cronyism with Ponza schemer Scott Rothstein and that his campaign had hired a convicted drug felon.
- Party Label. Democrats romanced Lamberti before the campaign, begging him to switch parties and become one of them. If he would have dropped his Republican membership,Lamberti would have had no challenge from Israel and would have won re-election. Instead unlike Korn, Lamberti could not shake his party label.
Israel’s victory is a masterpiece for political consultant Amy Rose. A former Young Democrat and part of the new wave of progressive Democrats, Rose struggled with Israel through a tough primary when every insider was initially backing Louis Granteed.
But Rose had a secret weapon, Ron Gunzburger, who was secretly advising her. The connection: Rose is a former aide to Sue Gunzburger.
Rose lost a big House race in the primary when her candidate Louis Reinstein was beaten. This week, she won Israel and School Board member Abby Freedman this week.
I expect more big things from Amy Rose.
Bye Bye Gonzalez
It may be over for former Judge Jose Gonzalez, who lost his bid to return to the bench.
This is also now written with the caveat that the remaining absentees could change this.
Gonzalez had a lot of baggage, but so did his victorious opponent Laura Marie Watson.
In the end, even consultant Judy Stern couldn’t overcome the prejudices against a candidate with a Spanish-sounding name running against an Anglo.
Judge Bob Diaz won, but he was running against Roshawn Banks, whose name is far from Anglo.