BY BUDDY NEVINS
For almost ten months, Sandra Perlman has been shadow boxing.
The assistant public defender has been running hard against Circuit Judge Cheryl Aleman.
Aleman has been nowhere to be found.
This is a race which may turn out not being a race at all.
Time is running out for the controversial Aleman, who was publicly reprimanded by the Florida Supreme Court last year for being discourteous to lawyers.
The five-day qualifying period for judicial office begins April 26, although candidates can file their papers early beginning April 12 under a state law.
Aleman hasn’t even begun raising money yet.
I have no idea what is in Aleman’s mind. She didn’t return telephone calls to her office for comment. Two supporters told me she did not return their calls, either.
Is Aleman is plotting a Machiavellian move to rob her rival Perlman of the chance to beat the judge in an election?
The gossip is the judge will resign her job rather than run for re-election. A resignation would toss Aleman’s Group 51 seat to the governor to fill by appointment.
That would be a blow to Perlman, who has been running for the seat since May 28, 2009. She is one of those public defenders who have virtually no chance of being recommended to the governor by the very partisan Republican Judicial Nominating Commission.
A resignation would be Aleman’s revenge against Perlman. Perlman was one of the lawyers who got the judge in hot water with the Supremes.
All this has thrown a blanket over the race.
“I’m not focusing on what Judge Aleman is going to do or not going to do, Pearlman said. “Everybody wants to talk about what she is going to do. I’m just running my race.
She could always switch to another race, if Aleman doesn’t run.
But this is something of a grudge match — Perlman denies my characterization.
But I believe she picked Aleman to run against because she fought with the judge, who she believes isn’t fair to defendants. Would Perlman have the fire in her belly to run against another candidate?
“I’ll cross that bridge when I have to, Perlman says.
Perlman has run a great race so far. She filled her iPhone with contacts during the past ten months and collected money early. She had $50,205 in donations through the end of last year.
Getting a head start was a good move. The field is now filled with over a dozen judicial candidates all trying to coax money out of the same law firms. Perlman was there first.
She also is a refreshing candidate, compared to some of the less qualified folks running against judges.
Perlman is a top homicide defender in Howard Finkelstein’s office with more than two decades of court experience. She already has good salary and a state pension. She doesn’t need a job, like some of the other judicial candidates.
“I want to make the courtroom a fair place for everybody. Only a judge can do that, Perlman says.
She has the training. She has a well-oiled campaign machine. Now all she needs is an opponent.