Judicial Campaigns Open Quietly Compared to 2010


What a difference two years make!

During the last election cycle, 16 judges faced opposition in heated races that troubled the legal establishment. Many lawyers felt the challengers were less qualified than the incumbents.

Committees were formed, money was raised, speeches were made and ads were distributed defending the incumbents. In the end the judges won and the challengers lost.

This time around – nothing.

No judge running for re-election has drawn opposition. Broward’s judicial campaigns appear decidedly low key compared to the frenzied 2010.

One Fort Lauderdale lawyer believed he had the reason that there are fewer candidates:  The economy. It’s better. Thus many lawyers are again making a decent living and reluctant to take a chance giving up a year of legal practice to campaign.

I’ve got another reason: Every challenger lost last time.

The Legislature also helped open up some seats unintentionally. By requiring higher pension payments which resulted in essentially a pay cut, some veteran judges decided to retire.

Most lawyers are smart enough to campaign for an open seat if one is available rather than run against an incumbent judge.

So what’s going on with the races for the open seats?

Michael Rothchild wants to replace his father, retiring Circuit Judge Ronald Rothchild.

On paper it appears that Rothchild might have a tough race, since his opponent is Julie Shapiro-Harris, wife of campaign operative Barry Harris.  But Barry Harris’ political talents don’t translate to campaign donations.

Michael Rothchild  raised $21,092 in donations by the end of 2011. Julie Shapiro-Harris raised $1,200.


Former Judicial Nominating Commission member Tim Bailey is doing even better.  He raised $11,205, compared to zero raised by his opponent, Debra Steinsaltz.

My favorite, of course, is incumbent  Broward County Judge Jill Levy.  She again is self-financing her campaign.

Six years ago, Levy was not an incumbent and she opened her campaign with $410,000 of her own money.

This year she is an incumbent, so she apparently believes she doesn’t need as much money.  She opened her 2012 campaign with $400,000.

9 Responses to “Judicial Campaigns Open Quietly Compared to 2010”

  1. Dorothy Tee says:

    Why would an incumbent or a non incumbent judge give her campaign $400,000? Does a judge make that much in salary in a year? Are there lots of perks that we do not know about? I’m just saying!

  2. Lessons Learned says:

    I think that there is one more reason to the lack of challengers.
    Last time a round there were a couple of well known pot stirrers. They blew smoke into the orifices of the wide-eyed, offering visions of a paycheck to some VERY marginal attorneys.
    The pot stirrers were motivated by either sour grapes/revenge or just trying to be a player in local politics.
    The pot stirrers got clobbered and humiliated.
    Now they have a reputation of being full of $#@% and even the most hard-up for a pay check attorney aint buying their stink.

  3. get real!! says:

    So Buddy: you imply money in this race is a positive yet you criticize both Lamberti, Alston and Satz. Why are you inconsistent on this race with money?

  4. Wayne Arnold says:

    I guess it is smart politics to put any prospective opponent on notice that she has the money to stand behind her candidacy for re-election. $400,000 ain’t chicken feed. If a candidate for public office believes in themselves they should contribute toward their own candidacy and never become obligated to special interest. Now, that would be unique and almost unbelievable.

    And remember that any money she doesn’t spend, she can take back. My bet is that all she ends up paying from this $400,000 is the filing fee because she won’t draw an opponent.

  5. Independent says:

    Oh to have $400,000 lying around. Must be nice.

  6. ANOTHER VIOCE says:

    sadly…Levy is a lousy judge…when and if she shows up

  7. Berger, are you kidding? says:

    Sounds like only the rich can be our judges. Somehow I don’t see them to be able to understand the average person that appears in front of them.

  8. whodat says:

    Well heck y’all, if our Gov. can plunk down 70+ mil for his LETS GET TO WORK job, then whats the big ffing deal? He is after all the leader of this state . . . right y’all? (gasp-choke-barf)

  9. Dawn Kaufman says:

    You’re damned if you do and you are damned if you don’t. People complain about the special interest groups supporting our candidates for office. When one of them decides to support their own candidacy….that too doesn’t please people. Judge Levy owes nothing to any special interest group. That should say a whole lot about her character and allegiance to uphold the law without worrying about whether or not someone will agree or disagree with her rulings and perhaps not support her. Nice to know there are honest judges out there!