Enemies: Public Defender Howard Finkelstein and Demo Boss Mitch Ceasar





You can’t even describe Public Defender Howard Finkelstein and Democratic boss Mitch Ceasar as frenemies.

They are just plain enemies.

Political enemies.

This is a brewing inner-party squabble the Broward Democrats can do without.

Liberal Democrat Finkelstein has picked a political fight with the durable leader of the state’s largest Democratic Party organization, Ceasar.  He did this by making a video appearing to endorse Ceasar’s opponent for the Broward Clerk of the Courts — Elizabeth McHugh, the administrative director of his Public Defenders Office.

The video, which is featured prominently on McHugh’s campaign website,  is here:



Ceasar had no public comment.

The Democratic leader did make some off-the-record remarks and, without betraying any confidences, let me say they were not complimentary.

I predict that Ceasar will remember Finkelstein’s snub. He has a notoriously long memory concerning political slights.

Ceasar is the consummate political gossip.  He could — I’m not saying he will, but he could — spend considerable time from now on bad mouthing Finkelstein to other Democrats.  Its opposition that the public defender doesn’t need.

If Finkelstein wants help on anything in the future, Ceasar no doubt will oppose him. Or at the very least sit on his hands.

McHugh has already opened her campaign. Her website went live this weekend.

Ceasar told Browardbeat.com he is in no rush to formally open a campaign. He is spending his time researching how to improve the Clerk’s Office and getting promises for campaign donations.

Another candidate in the race is Brenda Forman, wife of the current clerk Howard Forman, who is retiring after his current term expires at the end of 2016.

Lisa Serafin-Ferreri, a paralegal, has announced plans to run for the job, but has yet to file her papers.



18 Responses to “Enemies: Public Defender Howard Finkelstein and Demo Boss Mitch Ceasar”

  1. Way to go Howard says:

    Liz is highly qualified and Howard is (for once) standing by one of his loyal employees.

  2. count l f chodkiewicz chudzikiewicz says:

    For one liberal democratic official in a position like states attorney or a Republican state attorney to get involved in primaries or general elections is unseemly and inappropriate. Nothing Mr ceasar has done justifies Mr. Finckelsteins actions and frankly county sheriffs should also avoid these kind of involvements here or in arizona

  3. S O E Insider says:

    It is time for Honesty and Integrity in Broward County Elections “Mitch Ceasar Mob” must be put out to pasture.

    No more collections of “Absentee Ballots” by “consigliere’s” from intimated senior’s that are signed and unsealed. The DOJ and FBI are actively involved in monitoring the upcoming elections because of the numerous complaints of threats and intimidation made by elderly persons at several Senior Complexes.

    There will be another set of “Election Facilitators” and their candidates that will have a surprise of their life coming to a Federal Venue.

  4. Andrew Ladanowski says:

    Elizabeth Ann McHugh is the most qualified and experienced for clerk of the court. She has an exceptional educational background which includes an Executive MBA. Elizabeth Ann McHugh has a proven track record by steadily moving up thru the ranks and becoming the Administrative Director of the Public Defender’s office. Elizabeth Ann McHugh is highly educated by going back to school to get her Executive MBA. Elizabeth Ann McHugh values a work place that respects all employees, including women and minorities.

  5. JustSaying says:

    @count – You are clueless about politics. Traditionally in the U.S. fir the past century (maybe longer), the county sheriff – not just here, in any and every state – is the political boss of the county. Their endorsements are highly sought after. So if sheriffs can endorse (and do), why shouldn’t the others also make endorsements?

  6. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    If Mitch Ceasar(Ceasar will always rule-he took was back stabbed-quite literally-him and Cleopatra had a son(Octivus) when on to conquer Egypt-beat a drag queen that went on to be Tut, King Tut-wa s does all this sound so familiar). Any how Mr.Ceasar deserve s this postion.All that he has done for the Demo’s. Good luck Mitch. W/ a name like Ceasar how could he lose….

  7. Irony or ironies says:

    Public Defender Howard says he doesn’t want a political hack as Clerk. Yet by being the Public Defender playing in the Clerk’s race does that not make a him a political hack?

    One thing for sure, if he encourages or merely allows his employees to campaign and work polls for McHugh, it will be interesting, since in the last few cycles when his employees ran for Judge he said no employees could help in their campaigns.

  8. Robert Sanchez says:

    Howard is one of the most respected public servants in our community, Mitch needs to put his big boy pants on and stop worrying about what others do and focus his own business.

  9. In The Know About Howard says:

    @RobertSanchez. It is Howard that needs to put his big boy pants on. Howard can get himself elected, however he has yet to get anyone else elected. His endorsement is meaningless. Hepicked fights with various judges, i.e. the well-respected Judge Dale Ross, and he got reelected.McHugh is a glorified secretary and if Howard endorses her, I’ll vote for a donkey because I work there and know what goes on.


    I don’t know what tasks Liz McHugh performs at the Public Defenders Office.

    I do know that it is wrong, foolish and inaccurate to disparage secretaries. From my experience, secretaries (or executive assistants, aides or whatever the title) often run the day-to-day operations of a business with little recognition. Without secretaries many offices would grind to a halt.

  10. Ghost of Al Schreiber says:

    Remember when Howard — after he was handed the office by Al Schreiber — started bad mouthing “Big Al” at the Friday meetings in the office for having turned the office into a political machine, that he would be different, and the employees would no longer be expected to have to work on campaigns on demand? Apparently Howard has forgotten and wants to become “Big Al II” (or more accurately “Little Howard I”).

  11. Dear #7 says:

    Interesting, it seems to me that McHugh and Ferrari/Franz can do nothing but talk about Mitch. Mitch isn’t even a candidate nor has he talked about them. Maybe the others should stop worrying about him and focus on their own candidacies.

  12. Robert Sanchez says:

    I looked at her website and the video this morning. It is quite impressive. I would like to meet the glorified secretary that has an MBA and manages a $20million budget. The Clerk’s position is very important to the county and qualifications/experience matter, not political nonsense. Name calling and demeaning comments are an easy tool for the uninformed. I plan to learn as much as I can about all of them before I vote.

  13. All Fail Ceasar says:

    Rumor has it that Mitch is delaying filing because he hasn’t figured out where to have his neck massage parlor. The courts will have a huge backlog of sexual harassment cases when he is elected.


  14. Gibberish says:

    @ #6 Try taking a course in English…..oh, and history.

    @ #7 Being new to the political process, I would think there is a huge difference between the PD office employees campaigning for a judge (where I think the PD office should be neutral) and the Clerk of the Courts?

    @ #9 “A glorified secretary” that has more education, experience, dedication and class than you!

    @ #11 I you read the above, you would notice that “it” talks about Mitch. He has stated that he is going to run for the Clerks position. He has also referred to his opponents as “pigs in the trough”. Such a nice way to talk about people, by someone that expects to run an office of close to 900, a large percentage of those are women.

  15. Ha Ha Ha says:

    @12 – Very impressive indeed!! She’s the “Administrative Director” at the Public Defender’s office. That doesn’t sound like a secretary to me… it sounds much more like a high-ranking person who HAS a secretary.


    Here we have a smart, beautiful, highly accomplished and very capable woman vs. a ethically challenged man known for his secretive and “hands on” management style (@13).

  16. Lamberti is a Criminal says:

    Help me Howard and Mitch are both POS. They are only in it for the free guvmint cheeze.

  17. Sober As a Judge says:

    The clerk’s office plays an important role in keeping the court system organized. It is best run by a lawyer who understands what judges and lawyers need to keep cases moving through the system. Administrative experience and background in IT also helps. Our current clerk is a nice man however lawyers say that office is run poorly and well behind the times. We should strive for better given all the complaints about our dysfunctional court house in Broward.

  18. All Fail Caesar says:

    @ Sober The only lawyer that is supposedly in this race isn’t qualified. When was the last time he was in court? He maybe able to move cases through court but only for the sexual harassment cases he is part of.