Foolish Or Wise? Paying For Your Own Race



Sometime using your own money in a judicial campaign is just plain foolish.

That may be the case with Julie Shapiro-Harris, who is running for circuit court.  Harris has put $85,000 of her own into her race.


Julie Shapiro-Harris: Places A Big Bet On Winning

If Harris was a Rockefeller heir that kind of money would be pocket change.  She is not that lucky.  Harris is straight middle class, with an income last year of $56,305 and a net worth of $418,777.

Hey, I’m not financial genius.

But I know enough to see a risky bet when I see it. I see a very, very risky bet when Harris is dipping into her savings to pay for a campaign against Michael Rothschild that is at best a tossup.

At $56,305-a-year, it will take Harris a long time to make back that money.

Using your own money sometimes has a deeper meaning: Lack of support.

Harris has only managed to collect $12,285 in donations as of July 20. Compare that to Rothschild’s $58,737.

Her failure to collect even what it would take to run a city commission race is amazing since her husband is Barry Harris, a well-known Democratic political consultant. You can decide what that says about Barry Harris’ abilities.

Harris needs to be reminded of another judicial race in 1998 pitting three well-qualified candidates – Mitch Bernstein, Alice Reiter Feld and Kathy Ireland. It is proof that putting large sums of money in a race is no guarantee of victory.

Feld put over $108,000 in her race and Bernstein kicked in $50,000 of his own.  They lost to the candidate who put in only $21,000 –  Ireland.

The bottom line:

Some vilify judicial candidates paying for their own campaign as trying to buy a seat on the bench.

Others say that self-funding frees a potential judge from any conflicts.

I say putting money into a race can never replace the support shown by collecting donations. And sometimes it shows bad judgment because it is just plain fiscally stupid.


15 Responses to “Foolish Or Wise? Paying For Your Own Race”

  1. Just Saying says:

    Not speaking about Harris, but about virtually ALL non-incumbent judicial candidates: it is very hard to raise any significant amount of money for a race nobody largely cares about. Even incumbent judges struggled to raise money in 2010, when several drew challengers. Just a fact of life.

  2. Dan Reynolds says:

    The Ireland race is one example of campaign trumping self-funding, however there is the other example of David Krathen spending over half a million of his own money to defeat Nick Lopane who raised some eighty thousand.
    Nick BTW has since become a judge and is doing a great job.

  3. Belitnikoff says:

    Another shameless plug for Rothschild by Buddy Nevins. Everybody knows judicial races are funded by lawyers. Everybody knows lawyers are by nature cowards who will run in the other direction when approached by a candidate running against an incumbent. Rothschild may not be an incumbent but his father is. It’s the same thing. Buddy should spend less time socializing with the Rothschilds and more time learning how to be an impartial journalist.

    FROM BROWARD: states on the homepage that it features news and views.

    Just for the record, I have never socialized with the Rothschilds. I don’t know the Rothschilds and I don’t think I could pick the judge out from a lineup.

  4. Just speculating says:

    It is well known scuttlebutt around town (not saying it is true, just what people say) that Barry Harris doesn’t pay the bills he incurs on behalf of his candidates during campaigns. I do, personally, know candidates who told me that he stiffed them on outstanding bills once their campaigns ended.

    Maybe they are planning on running this campaign on credit and not repaying their vendors? Just speculating.

  5. Anonymous says:

    It’s a bit easier for Rothchild because he’s the son of a sitting, albeit retiring, judge. He’s not supposed to campaign or further his son’s candidacy in any way, but don’t think that people aren’t giving to the campaign because of who’s son he is. You also forgot about Kathleen Mary “Katie” McHugh. She has given about $60,000 to her campaign and only raised about $4,000. Yous statement that putting money into a campaign can’t replace the support shown by collecting donations, and that it sometimes shows bad judgement because it’s fiscally stupid doesn’t make sense when you consider who McHugh’s opposition is – Ilene Lieberman. By your rationale, McHugh shows bad judgement and is fiscally stupid, whereas Lieberman’s donations shows that she has a lot of support. I would say that there should be a good blend between the donations a candidate receives and the money a candidate gives to their own campaign. But even still, when you look at it, most candidates pay themselves back for the loans the gave to their campaign in full before anyone else gets any of their donation money back. The bottom line it is a gamble, and if candidates choose to self-fund their campaign, then that’s their risk. Hopefully, they are not risking more than they can afford to lose.


    I wrote about Julie Harris because that is the one that came to mind.

    I could have written about McHugh. I have written that she was financially foolish in another way — wasting large sums on a ridiculous multi-page flyer sent a month ago.

    McHugh is up against Ilene Lieberman, who has significant baggage. This might make the equation is different.

  6. Plain Language says:

    If you fund your own campaign, then very few people can afford to run and the system goes back to rule by the rich. Most good leaders could never get the chance to serve under those conditions.

    If you raise money, then you are criticized for being in the back pocket of your contributors. It is a total Catch-22.

  7. Speaking of Feld says:

    Yes Feld lost a lot of money in that race. But she spent around 10 grand to beat then Judge Gonzalez and he had all the money and support. Reminds me of this year again Julio has all the money and support but there is nothing for Republicans to vote for. Looks good for Rhoda, we will see about the rest.


    Not the same Feld.

  8. Alex B. says:


    Click the link to watch Gineen Bresso address the Broward GOP

    Vote & Support GINEEN BRESSO for CONGRESS! The ONLY credentialed candidate in the race, who is ready to take on and DEFEAT Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

    Go to for additional information. Volunteer & Donate Now!

  9. Slick Rick says:

    The average voter doesn’t read Buddy Nevins blog. As a journalist he shBar ould know that most judicial campaigns are self funded. As for ethnics, what is the status on the Florida Bar complaint against Rothschild? Why not report that the Bar found “probable cause” and started an investigation. Buddy? Report the truth, not the truth according to Buddy.

  10. voter says:

    At best maybe 300 people read this blog so slick Rick is correct. Fewer read newspapers. but I am voting for Julie.


    You are vastly underestimating the readership of

  11. John Fusaro says:

    I am running a campaign with my own cash. I’ve only raised approximately $8,000 compared to my opponent’s $41,000. Is it a lack of support? It sure is. Unions, Engineers, architectural firms, Law firms, P.A.C. , Etc. The ones that contribute are all afraid. They don’t want to bite the hand that feeds them. Nor do they want to loose a vote.

  12. voter says:

    Buddy – my apologies on readership. Even if thousands, are they in Broward? Are they registered voters? Who actually make the effort to vote? we’ll see. I like your blog. You cover a range of pertinent topics and usually just lay out the facts. but my comment is based on the indifference and apathy I see in my FLL neighborhood and districts. Its tragic. they don’t read. Blogs or newspapers. So maybe my comment should be amended to 300 posting comments.

    What race is John Fusaro in? He is not on my sample ballot for Aug. 14. ??

  13. Susanna Bott says:

    Good morning! Buddy, thank you for writing this article it provides an opportunity to support Julie C. Shapiro-Harris. Truly it is a HUGE PLUS she funded her campaign ~ she will stand true to her word and fairness as a Judge for this one reason alone!!! She is going to be a fabulous judge ~ full of integrity, kindness, bright, aware of all socio-economic situations making her the superior choice for carrying out decisions affecting people’s lives who come through her courtroom. I like the idea she has worked diligently for a number of years as a Social Worker, and for Legal Aid helping people throughout her career and life; she is a fiscally responsible person and candidate ~ I LOVE the idea she has a positive net worth and is apparently a good saver! 😀 She will be fair and ethical beyond reprise. Please consider the obligations the opponent may face when required to be completely unbiased and, yet, there are favors due when many approach his courtroom. And if the opponent wins on his daddy’s coat tails, well, that’s really not much of a win now is it? Smart, savvy women will be voting and I would highly recommend you contain overestimating your dominating male opinion with regard to this race. Let’s give credit where credit is due. How many people are good givers AND good savers!?! Julie C. Shapiro-Harris ~ those in favor, please VOTE for her * know * she is the qualified candidate: the real deal. Thank you. Sincerely, Susanna Bott, CEO & Founder, (Like us on FaceBook) and have a happy, loving and peaceful day!

  14. Chaz Stevens, Genius says:


    You are vastly underestimating the readership of

    Maybe s/he got confused converting from metric… Or maybe that’ Newtons into foot-pounds…

  15. Miz Bott says:

    We don’t need social workers for judges; we need lawyers. Ms. Harris does not have the depth or experience to be a circuit court judge. Circuit Court Judges listen to cases involving very serious legal matters, literally life and death in murder cases. If you had a loved one who died at another’s hand, you would not want a social worker deciding the defendant’s fate. Micheal Rothschild has spent years in a courtroom, not in a cubicle. The people of Broward deserve better than a social worker.