No Spanish? Cynics Target Hispanic Judges


Something very cynical is going on in the Broward County judicial elections. 
Three Hispanic judges, who by all accounts are doing a fine job, have been challenged.

 Judges Catalina Avalos, Pedro E. Dijols and Julio Gonzalez Jr. drew opponents.  The only other judge to have a challenger is Family Court Judge Renee Goldenberg.
Why Avalos, Dijols and Gonzalez? Because the judges have Hispanic names.  Some calculating political insiders believe that many Broward voters won’t vote for a Hispanic.
Judicial candidates are unknown by the vast majority of voters and because they are listed on the ballot without any party identification.  So the name counts for a lot.    
The common wisdom is that Jews, who make up a large percentage of the voters in the August 26 primary, will vote for the Jewish name when they know nothing else about the candidate.
This is not unique to Jews.  Boston is filled with Irish office holders for the same reason. Miami-Dade has a large number of Cuban-American office holders.
David Brown, a Hollywood-based political consultant who is increasingly specializing in Broward judicial races is handling Dijols and Gonzalez. He agrees with my interpretation why the Hispanic judges were challenged.
He believes he can offset any subconscious aversion to Hispanic-named candidates by having them spend time in communities with a lot of likely voters, primarily condominium complexes.
“They are being introduced to the residents by people they trust, Brown said. “They are making friends.
Brown is counting on Broward voters being mature enough to vote for the candidate and not for the name.  I’m not as confident.
But it does help that Avalos, Dijols and Gonzalez have vastly more experience then their opponents.
If voters just followed my rule for judicial races there would be no question who would win.  I call it the “Who’s The First Person You Would Call Rule.”
 It goes like this:  If you were busted, which lawyer in the race would be the first one you would call?
Take the County Court race between Avalos and Ian Richards. 
Avalos was a Broward County prosecutor for eight years before being appointed to the County Court in 2005 trying felonies including murder and sexual battery.  In the past three years, she presided over 15,000 cases. 

And Richards?  He has been a lawyer six years, one year more than the five-year minimum that allows him to run for judge, according to the Sun-Sentinel.  Richards may be the world‘s greatest lawyer, but I would prefer somebody with more  experience if I was thrown in the slammer. 

So my vote would go to Avalos.
The same goes for Dijols and Gonzalez.  There is no comparison.


2 Responses to “No Spanish? Cynics Target Hispanic Judges”

  1. Great Analysis Buddy says:

    Dead on Buddy, expecially for the Avalos/Richards race. Kevin Kulik, the wannabe “judge kingmaker”, took a really crass approach to figuring out which judges to find opponents for. Although I would add one other thing. These are judges who were also appointed by Jeb Bush, so the opponents are shooting for a two-fer — vote for me, Im not hispanic, and vote for me, Im not a republican (subtly of course).

    Ian Richards is also a joke candidate who won’t even show his face west of I-95 or North of I-595. His signs litter the streets of Fort Lauderdale, North Lauderdale, and some sections of Lauderhill. He hands out materials in those communities that have his photo. But on the rare occasions he has someone handing out his materials in older jewish communities, they don’t have his photo (Ian Richards is black).

    Why? Simple….he hopes that people will look at a generic name like Ian Richards vs. an ethnic name like Catalina Avalos and vote for him.

    I’d add one more thing to think about when voting in a judicial race where you don’t know the candidates…If you’ve never heard of the incumbent judge, it means they haven’t done anything bad that the media picked upon. And if a judge hasn’t done something “wrong” on the job, is there really a reason to replace them?

  2. Killmenow says:

    I do have a problem with judges appointed by Jeb Bush, and I am inclined to have an interest in challengers who are more likely to be Democrats, or at least hold the Bushes in absolute disdain.

    But, it is also an excellent point that if they haven’t done anything wrong, apparently, then why shouldn’t they retain their seats?

    Voting for judges is really impossible for the average voter, however, and I don’t like the whole thing.

    I very much appreciate any reportage on the race for judicial seats, as there’s hardly enough.