Non-Political Newcomer Fights Veteran Politician For $169k Plum Job






Elizabeth McHugh has a great resume to be Broward Clerk of the Courts.

Now she just has to raise copious amounts of cash and get enough support for a credible campaign to win the Democrat primary next year.

“If I didn’t think I could win, I wouldn’t do this,” McHugh says.

An attractive 49-year-old native of Broward County, McHugh has a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) from Florida Atlantic University.


Liz McHugh

Elizabeth McHugh


McHugh started out as a law clerk in the Public Defender’s Office 28 years ago. She was promoted to various budgeting jobs with increasing responsibility over the years.

Today, she is is the Administrative Director of the Broward Public Defender’s Office, responsible for the finances of the $20 million agency with 230 fulltime employees.

All that experience would get her the job if professional management and finance ability were the only skills that mattered, but this job must be won in an election.

McHugh finds herself in a political brawl with no background in politics.

The assumption is that only Democratic candidates count in the race. It would be an extreme long shot for a Republican to win countywide in Broward where Democrats hold better than a two-to-one edge over Republicans.

Only Democrats have opened campaigns so far.

In addition to McHugh, the other candidates are:

  • Mitch Ceasar, 61.

He has been a Broward Democratic activist since he was a teenager. He worked his way up to become Broward Democratic chair in the 1990s and spent much of the last two decades as the public face of the largest Democratic organization in Florida.

Along the way, Ceasar has also been forced to pirouette through numerous internecine party squabbles, which has made him enemies.

Ceasar is the only candidate who is a practicing lawyer, which he contends gives him an edge in understanding what the Clerk’s Office should accomplish.

His advantage in the campaign is that Ceasar has been around so long he just about everybody who counts in Broward politics. That is especially important in a Democratic primary that is expected to have a low turnout.

  •  Brenda Forman.

She has no real political experience herself, but she is the wife of the retiring current Clerk Howard Forman. Howard Forman, 69, is a former state senator and former county and city commissioner.

In the Daily Business Review, writer Julie Kay quotes Brenda Forman as saying that Howard Forman “is helping her collect campaign contributions from office vendors.” Her biggest contribution was from lobbyist Ron Book, who represents the Clerk’s Office in Tallahassee and bundled $12,000 from clients for Ms. Forman, according to Kay.

  • Shandrell Latrice Roscoe.

Roscoe calls herself a former teacher who was raised in Fort Lauderdale. She is a Florida Atlantic University graduate in criminal justice. Unknown in the Broward political world, Roscoe has been attending various political club meetings during the early stages of her campaign.

These four Democrats are running for a job that is an immense management challenge.

Broward’s clerk essentially shuffles legal documents, but there is a huge amount of paper to keep organized.

In 2013-24, the Circuit Court had 75,848 cases, one third of them divorces and other family matters. The County Court had 368,562 cases, many of them contested traffic violations that go before a judge or hearing officer.

The Clerk also files routine traffic tickets and handles marriage licenses.

It has a budget of $38 million and 850 employees.

Broward Clerk is one of the richest political plums in the county, currently paying $169,000 annually along with a generous pension.

The early line is that Ceasar is the favorite.

He has better name recognition than his opponents after 20 years as the Democratic spokesman.


Low Information Voter


Sadly, the Clerk’s race is of little interest to most voters.

The majority will have no knowledge about any of the candidates. Advertising won’t change that, since is is doubtful any of the hopefuls will have enough money to reach the Democrats often enough to make a difference, according to two political strategists with extensive histories in Broward.

The vast majority of those casting ballots in the Clerk’s race will pick one of the candidates randomly based on a name they know or like. This is why Ceasar’s name ID could really pay off, said one campaign strategist with statewide experience.

One caveat: Research indicates that when voting randomly, women tend to vote more for female candidates. That factor could actually help Ceasar, since his three female opponents could split any gender-driven vote leaving him with the biggest total.

Two other longtime political players warned that Ceasar’s recognition cuts two ways.

Ceasar has no doubt some party activists don’t like him due to political differences. These folks may be inspired to actively work against his election. However, it is doubtful that enough voters know or care about Ceasar’s inner-party machinations to influence the results.

So Ceasar remains the overwhelming favorite and the only candidate with legal experience. While McHugh is the only candidate with management experience.

The other two have little or no administrative background.

So who should be Clerk? In 11 months, you can help decide….if you’re a Democrat.




24 Responses to “Non-Political Newcomer Fights Veteran Politician For $169k Plum Job”

  1. More to come says:

    I hear Lisa Ferrari who used to be Lisa Franz is coming in the race. I hear she is telling people the she has the infamous disbarred attorney/campaign coordinator behind John Contini running her race, Lee Cohn.

    We all remember Lee.

  2. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    Now I must be brutally honest about staffers and elected officials since 1970 or so. Before 1970 you could talk in Florida or New Jersey or New York or in D.C. to any government official or write a letter and get an answer showing someone listened before replying. At some point the culture in government changed n staffers only carried about the “top dog” in their bureaucracy or campaign guru. The campaign gurus were replaced mainly by major campaign contributors in the 1980s and early 1990s
    The County Clerks office today cant answer a citizens inquiry without a lawyer being paid to help because the staff is only interested in plwasing the retired politician who runs it now who only cares for lawyers who have financed his campaigns. There is nothing in any resume of anyone but Mr Cesar that would indicate if you cant get help from the staff you could get help from any candidate id they were the “top dog” but Mr Ceaser.

  3. McHugh for Clerk says:

    Having known Liz McHugh for going on 6 years she is the kindness and most compassionate person I know. Her work ethic is beyond reproach. She listens to those around her and makes all of the correct decisions. Her background and education makes her the perfect choice for the Broward County Clerk of Courts. She has been dedicated to the Broward Public Defenders office and gives 110%. Her dedication to her job, her staff and those that the Public Defender serves, make her the best person to run the Clerk of Courts operation.

    The position doesn’t need a lawyer to run the office, it needs someone whose experience and education will bring out the best in Broward County Clerk of Courts office. Vote for Elizabeth McHugh!

  4. McHugh for Clerk says:

  5. cucootimes says:

    Brenda infortunately has tarnishing negative family member baggage.

  6. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    A lawyer isnt needed to run the office that handles all LEGAL DOCUMENTS and LEGAL RECORDS! Oh and brain surgery should be performed by “any body”? I never read such NONSENSE!

  7. McHugh for Clerk says:

    Count whatever: McHugh has a BA in Criminal Justice degree and reads LEGAL DOCUMENTS and LEGAL RECORDS every day. Also, just for your information, the Clerk of Courts has a legal department to handle such matters.

    Also, Count, if you’re supporting Mitch l suggest you spell his name correctly. You spelled it two times, both different and both incorrect. It is ceasar.

  8. Amy Amy Amy says:

    Lets connect the dots and the anonymous comments. Amy Rose, the LUCKY campaign consultant who at one time was much maligned for writing bad checks is the campaign consultant who has received $2k from McHughes Campaign. How is that going to work out for you opposing the Broward Dems former leader with a Republican while running other Dem campaigns?


    “Much maligned” true by reports that were overblown in my opinion. Amy Rose has been a successful consultant. Why not hire her?

    McHugh is not a Republican. She is a registered Democrat.

  9. C. Smith says:

    As I sit here sipping my Friday evening martini (stirred not shaken), and before I sign off my computer for the weekend, I feel the need to comment on this article. I am a longtime resident of Broward County, an active member of the legal community, and have observed and participated in the political process for many years. The list of candidates for the Broward County Clerk of Courts office is truly remarkable. You have an “attractive” bookkeeper (how sexist of you Buddy) from the PD’s office; an incompetent attorney who isn’t morally and ethically challenged; a non-credentialed, opportunistic (she married the boss), inexperienced wannabe who has publicly stated that she has her husband (the current Clerk) hawking clerk office and vendors for campaign contributions; and a court deputy. Most surprising of all, is who is not mentioned in this article. Iris Siple is by far the most qualified person to run that office with her many years of experience there. Everyone knows that if you want something done, you go to Iris. She is well versed in all facets of the office, she works well with the other agencies, and is respected by the legal community. It’s a shame that Howard Forman didn’t keep his word and support Iris upon his retirement.


    Physical attractiveness, whether in a man or woman, is a definite aspect of success in campaigns. If you don’t believe that, you are blind to reality.

  10. C. Smith says:

    Correction to my previous post… incompetent attorney who IS morally and ethically challenged!!!!! Maybe I shouldn’t sip and type at the same time.

  11. Jump the fence says:

    McHugh is a D now. Was she an R? If so when did she jump ship? If recently can one assume why? I would hate to see an R disguised as a D running one of the biggest political offices in South Florida.

  12. Andrew Ladanowski says:

    Forget Politics, if we looked at who is most qualified it’s McHugh. She’s had an impressive career, she started out 28 years ago in the public defender’s office, while working there went back to school and was promoted thru the ranks. She now manages the public defender’s office. She has an excellent reputation. One of her opponents experience is in lobbying and more lobbying. He has a reputation of being a bully and while managing a tiny office he had allegations of sexual harassment. The tax payers may feel unfordable allowing a person with that background being in a position of such authority, where the majority of the employees are women. Please read . Two other contenders don’t seem to off much either. Being the spouse of the current clerk of the court, who is criticized for not bringing the courts the proper technology does not make you qualified. The last opponent is 24 fresh out of college, not a serious contender and I will assume will not bother paying the over $10k in fees to qualify. McHugh is the only qualified candidate who the public could trust and has the experience and education to move the clerk forward.
    Public hates politicians and hate lobbyist’s even more, they want an administrator with experience.

  13. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    Unlike blogging from a cellphone in odds moments where spelling and grammar isnt important in my scholarly life of 60 years including 35 years in Europe Australia New Zealand Canada and half a dozen US states working with and archives of County Clerks n their records I know from experience county clerks need not only law degrees but have to have practical legal experience.
    As for Mr Mitch Ceasar or however his name or any other Broward Co political name is spelled or if Tim Ryan or Mike Ryan is Mayor of the County or Mayor of Sunrise, to be blunt policies or actions of government that effect my tax moneys interest me not the details of who is running for what. I will say Jack Seiler Mitch Ceaser Dean Trantalis Bruce Roberts at non political events have seem like decent guys and the liberal Jewish elected officials I have observed at Jewish related history activities like both Geller brothers Nan Rich Lois Frankel have acted ignorant of facts n background and only interested in fact absent political opportunistic political correctness of the monent. And I think the school and county commissions are controlled by low rent non entities who effectively have farmed out their votes to lobbyists. I find the “critics” to be stupid or liars like the jerks would said I live on MMiami Beach when not only have I lived in Ft Lauderdale for 11 years but have lived in my own house their that I have owned since 2012. The fact is the defense of an under qualified candidate for county clerk based on my REAL LIFE experience by people who harp on side issues or non issues is why crooks n stupid people run Broward County. I feel sorry for Mr Nevins Miss Greenbarg n Karnak as I can escape to New York Rome Sidney Paris Philadelphia Montreal where the governments have more than five Knowledgeable coherent critics when governments screw up or get corrupt.

  14. All that glitters says:

    Anyone who hires Amy in a year where the Sheriff is on the ballot is a fool. If Israel wants her time, everyone else goes to the back seat.

  15. Ha Ha Ha says:

    Agree completely with #3 & #7…

    @9 – I think you have Ceasar’s situation completely backwards. IMO Ceasar IS “morally and ethically challenged” – and certainly from what I have seen he is a competent attorney. If you have evidence to the contrary then I’d like to see that evidence. But I do agree with you that Iris Siple would have been a good candidate.

    Strongly support McHugh – she’s very, very smart, very highly qualified, very highly experienced in exactly this type of work, and on top of all that she is absolutely the perfect counterexample to the idea that politics is “show business for unattractive people”.

    There is no plausible argument that Elizabeth McHugh isn’t by far the very best candidate in this election. I sure hope she does to the Court Clerk’s website what Lori Parrish did to the Property Appraiser’s website (i.e., take it from a piece of garbage that belongs in the junkyard to a world class, awesome asset that the people of Broward County are rightly proud of).

  16. Emily Rubin says:

    McHugh is a recent convert to the Democratic party, so she can run for office countywide. She was a Republican for many years. She changed because a Republican can’t win a countywide office in Broward. Check it out.

  17. Ha Ha Ha says:

    @16 – Even if true, irrelevant. The Court Clerk doesn’t control any political policy type questions. It’s just an administrative post, nothing more.

    I’ll very happily accept a highly competent and ethically flawless Republican in a ministerial position – especially when the predecessor is a Democrat known for appalling technological incompetence and the purported alternative is a Democrat known for being morally and ethically challenged, for having a top-down non-inclusive management style, and for generating large numbers of highly credible allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace.

    As much as I’d love to see Mitch Ceasar’s ejection from the position of Broward Democratic Party Chair become permanent, I just can’t support putting him into the Broward Court Clerk’s seat instead of the much better qualified candidate Elizabeth McHugh.

    Even if McHugh was running as a lifelong Republican, she’d still be the better choice!

  18. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    I dearly wish some of the people who think a non-lawyer can be a County Clerk would have had to suffer the stupidity, lost documents, mis-information, and costly work that was done slipsode by county clerks INCLUDING IN THIS STATE! A lawyer would have both the professional training and practical experience at how to keep, log in or record, ACCURATELY legal records. At present there are literally two, maybe four legal issues that I am personally involved with that “go on and on” because county clerks – non-lawyers – can’t seem to get COMPLETE files of ALL DOCUMENTS together and their “explanations” make everyone involved from out of state ROLL THEIR EYES!
    Unless Mr. Ceaser has (and I understand so far he has NOT) has shown sloppiness or lack of organization, he remains the MOST QUALIFIED FOR THIS JOB to the best of my knowledge.

  19. Chaz Stevens, Genius says:

    To think that the Clerk of Court isn’t a highly political position in lunacy.

    McHugh is a great administrator, put completely out of her league when dealing with unions, negotiations, or schmoozing politicians.

    Caesar in a landslide, and if he’s smart, he’d hired on McHugh to help run the joint.

  20. Emily Rubin says:

    @17 You missed the point. If she changed parties just to run for office, it goes to her lack of integrity. It is untruthful for her to change her political party, just to run for office and not because her beliefs have changed. She is trying to trick the voters. She should show some backbone and be honest with the voters and say, I am a Republican who recently became a Democrat because a Republican can’t win countywide.



    I appreciate you bring this up.

    I asked Elizabeth McHugh when and why she had changed from Republican to Democratic Party registration. She texted me this:

    2008- I had philosophical differences with the Republican party specifically on stem cell research and same sex marriage and abortion. I am personally pro-life but I don’t have the right to tell another woman what to do with her own body.

    Blind allegiance to a party over many years is not an attribute that should be praised. The personal philosophies of many politicians have evolved, causing them to switch parties. Or the party positions have changed. If you don’t change you become like many supporters of the Tea Party, trapped in the past. It is changing political philosophies that turned the Democratic Party from a bastion of segregation to the organization it is today.

    Politicians like Hillary Clinton, a college Young Republican president, and Michael Bloomberg, a Republican turned independent, have changed parties. Charlie Crist is the most famous party switcher in Florida.

    Lots of people change parties. Democrats should embrace those who wants to become a member of their party.

  21. Broward Voter says:

    Don’t we have a County Manager? The Charter Review Commission should look into eliminating this as an elected official. Ditto for Supervisor of Elections.

  22. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    I rest my case that the bloggers spend too much time blogging about things they dont have a clue about. The County Manager like all County Managers in Florida is appointed like City Managers. For Heavens sakes dont we teach civics any more?

  23. Percy says:

    For all of you Mitch Ceasar cheerleaders you should contact
    Travis Perron (C) 954-614-8202 Area 1 Leader regarding the fiscal health of the BDP under Mitch’s 20 year reign which he states was on the verge of filing bankruptcy.

    Peel the onion you will find a totally empty wrinkled suit worn by Ceasar. P.S. don’t use a black light on it.

    @19 are you a closet misogynists? You donate your proceeds to WID yet you make such a disparaging statement regarding successful women.

  24. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    For left wing Democrats like Messrs Percy n Perron to complain about the County Party being broke is like the patricide n matricide pleading for mercy because he’s an orphan. The left pushes more regulation more taxes more government all of which effect educated high value individuals who flee such socialist nihilist policies. What young educated multi-millionaire wants to give the county a dime when the activists cost him time n money with their latest environmental fantasy. The left with policies including Israel bashing which now looks more n more like anti-semitism pushed decent people out of county affairs – have you ever gone to a fundraiser and had to sit next to wacko ken evens? I did n wont contribute because of his left wing hateful speech against conservative Protestants n Catholics! The left has destroyed the Demicratic Party in Florida n the South!