Progressive Guns For Broward’s Longest Office Holder: Mike Satz


BY BUDDY NEVINS

State Attorney Mike Satz barely held on to his job three years ago with a paper-thin 5,400-vote victory.

Sensing the formally-invulnerable chief prosecutor may be toast this time around, ambitious Democrats are snapping at Satz’s heels.

The first Democratic 2020 challenger has surfaced.

Enter from Stage Left, Joe Kimok.  

Very left. 

Kimok hopes he can create a new coalition of progressives and people of color.  

He is the only candidate so far running for State Attorney. 

Satz has not opened a reelection campaign, fueling rumors he may not run. He did not return a call for comment.

Mike Satz

Kimok isn’t waiting for Satz’s decision. 

Although he has been a lawyer for just nine years, he plans to campaign on his experience in the law and in life. 

He tells folks that he has a unique understanding of the less fortunate because he was one of them, as he explained in an e-mail:  

“I was born in West Palm Beach.  While my parents were married, they raced greyhounds around the country.  We’d travel from track to track with our dogs depending on the season, which brought us all over the country.  

When I was seven my father left my mom.  We were living near Tampa at the time.  

She was unemployed with three kids to care for.  The four of us loaded into her two door Toyota Tercel and everything we owned and drove from Tampa to Spencertown, New York to live in my grandparents’ basement.  

My mom got a job at a grocery store, applied for and received government assistance, and went back to school.  Eventually, she was able to earn her teaching certificate and became a high school science teacher in Pittsfield, MA, where I went to middle school and high school.  

Her first salary was for $29,000 a year which she used to raise three of us on her own.  Despite teaching several years, when I graduated high school, we still qualified for free lunch. 

A large percentage of the folks we find in the criminal justice system live in poverty.  I understand what that’s like because I’ve lived it.  When I was an Assistant State Attorney, my life-experience often helped inform my decision-making and think it will as State Attorney as well.

For the past five years, Kimok has been an attorney with the Office of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Council. The state agency represents the poor in cases where the Public Defender has a conflict, perhaps by representing a co-defendant. It also handles some dependency, civil cases, and civil commitment proceedings and appeals.

“I am the President of the Broward Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers,” he says.  “I have more trial experience over the past nine years than almost anyone in the county, including juvenile, misdemeanor, felony, and death penalty cases.”

Voters don’t know enough about Kimok to prove or disprove that last boastful comment.

Joe Kimok

But a lot of voters do know Satz.

Satz entered politics in 1976 as a prosecutor who was tough on crime. For the past 43 years, he has been the one constant in a rapidly changing community. He has now been in office longer than any other Broward office holder.

Whether Democratic voters today believe that being tough on crime is a quality they want in a chief prosecutor will be the issue in this race. Since this is Broward, the next State Attorney will be picked in the Democratic primary. 

Kimok’s “progressive” approach may appeal to voters, although in the real world it is unclear whether he can really do half of what he says in an e-mail: 

“A progressive prosecutor, to me, is a prosecutor who uses his or her position to reduce mass incarceration, to end the criminalization of poverty and the war on drugs, to keep non-violent people out of prison and to refocus our resources in areas that actually keep us safe.


GOOD POLITICS


Make no mistake. His positions on bias are not the ravings of a lefty that can be easily dismissed. They are also good politics in a county where roughly half of the Democratic voters are black.

Satz lost the black community in his last reelection, where precincts went with challenger Teresa Williams over Satz 57-43 percent, according to Matthew Isbell of MCIMaps. 

This loss was offset by Republicans and NPAs who voted for Satz and wouldn’t have been voting in the election if the Democratic primary was closed.

Any challenger to Satz is not expected to make that mistake again. Watch for someone to have a write-in file for State Attorney and close the primary the next time around.

Satz wouldn’t talk about 2020. 

He was anxious to talk several years ago about the accusations he prosecuted a disproportionate number of minorities for minor drug crimes and other low level transgressions. 

“I’ve heard it and it’s absolutely false,” he told Browardbeat during his 2012 reelection. 

Addressing drugs, Satz said, “We have a diversion program.  Somebody with a small amount of drugs can go in that program.  If they get in trouble again, they can go to drug court.  If they get in trouble again, they go on probation.

“Remember that Mike Satz and none of the prosecutors in this office do any sentencing.  Judges do all the sentencing. Judges in Broward County are sensitive to drug problems,” he said.

“The State Attorney’s Office doesn’t arrest suspects.  The police agencies do that,” Satz said.  “Even if I was Attila the Hun – and I’m not – I couldn’t unilaterally put people in jail.”

True, but will the black voters listen to Satz? Or are they ready to give him the boot?

Kimok won’t be the only candidate working to replace Satz.

The politics of Satz’s future works like this: 

If Satz runs, more challengers in the race gives the incumbent a better chance. 

If Satz doesn’t run, no doubt some heavyweight deep-pocked attorney will jump into the race potentially eclipsing Kimok. 

Either way, Kimok has a long, challenging road ahead of him.

He remains undaunted. 

He has campaign help from people like Phil Jerez of Progress for Florida LLC a former Miami Dade teacher who was the deputy political director for Andrew Gillum’s gubernatorial campaign.

Kimok promises to knock on doors. He promises to make phone calls. He promises voters will hear from him regardless if he is outspent. 

“I think I’m the candidate most well-suited to bring that reform,” Kimok says.  “ If we can get our message out to the voters, I’m confident that we’re going to win.” 

But getting your message out is the big IF in a big county like Broward. 



9 Responses to “Progressive Guns For Broward’s Longest Office Holder: Mike Satz”

  1. Count. LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    If the Black Community feels they want a more ‘understanding’ State Attorney THERE ARE ENOUGH BLACK QUALIFIED ATTORNEYS N THEY DONT NEED TO SUPPORT AN INEXPERIENCED WHITE GUY FROM PALM BEACG
    H COUNTY.

  2. City activist Robert Walsh says:

    Please.So if a Black atty.runs for SA that he/ she will bring crime down for African Americans?.Come on.That analogy the voters will never go for.Yes,u need the Black vote but the Black vote alone will not get u elected.One way to look at it is if your Black,Hispanic,White, Asian don.t committ crimes and or break the law and u have nothing to worry about.What I’m sending is Black people r heavily prosecuted more so than other races.Don.t committ crimes.Not Satz is fault or doing that majority of his cases are against Black defendants.Than don.t comiit crime.To imply he just goes after Black people is assisine.And this notion if u elected a Black atty to head SAO crime will go down.I think not.My take.Run again Atty.Satz u will prevail…

  3. Las Olas Lawyer says:

    I never thought I would say this, but it is time for Satz to go. No one should be in office more than 40 years. This guy, however, is not the one to replace Satz. He sounds like he is running for Public Defender.

  4. What color? says:

    From Buddy’a article:
    “Kimok hopes he can create a new coalition of progressives and people of color.”

    Dear Joe,

    Many of us have experienced living pay check to pay check and living near the poverty line like you. Some of us still have habits such as keeping a full freezer because we had to feed children on incomes that went up and down with the feast and famine cycles of the construction industry. Hotdogs, macaroni and cheese, bologna, and cereal were often the only affordable items at the grocery store, Most of us, including you, have not experienced true poverty. True poverty is really bleak. So, give me a break on that story.

    I am interested in the “people of color” angle. You seem to be just another white dude claiming to speak for colored people, along the lines of Bill Clinton and Joe Biden. I can claim to have somewhat ruddy skin, especially on windy or very sunny days. Does your description of “people of color” include those with ruddy skin or does your definition of color exclude anyone who is Caucasian? If so, that seems to be racist!

    Sincerely,
    A Caucasian voter who sometimes gets windburned

  5. Tom says:

    Hi Buddy – please check your stats on the Williams v. Satz race. I think it was 52% to 48% -You are about 5 points off. It is not possible to get these results only from the black community. Williams got about 50000 out of 72000 votes from the black community when you look at the numbers. Satz only won because no one else had the guts to run and close the primary. If republicans were out Williams won the race. She has stated repeatedly that she is running again. With 25 years of experience and being a former chief with Miami-Dade SAO she has the momentum and the credentials.

    FROM BUDDY:

    You are right that Republicans and NPAs most likely saved Satz. I have clarified that point with an added few sentences.

    Matthew Isbell of MCIMaps estimated that Williams received 7,061 votes from black precincts, not 50,000. And she received 79,000, mot 72,000 as you wrote above.

    Below are the results for the race from the Supervisor of Elections website:

    STATE ATTORNEY ALL PCTS
    Participating Precincts Completely Reported: 577 / 577

    Mike Satz (DEM)
    51.64% 84,776

    Teresa Elizabeth Williams (DEM)

    48.36% 79,376

  6. Davie Blvd lawyer says:

    #3 – “I never thought I would say this, but it is time for Satz to go. No one should be in office more than 40 years.”

    I hope there is a better reason to vote against Satz than this. During that 40 years, he has run an effective office without a single scandal. I challenge you to find another gov’t agency head in Broward that has done as good a job over that period of time, or even come close.

    As for Kimok, we need look no further than Brenda Foreman to know that a 9 year, 4 job lawyer with no managerial experience is not the person to replace Satz.

  7. Eyes Open Wide L says:

    Satz was a lawyer for eight years when he became State Attorney so Kimok’s nine years is a senseless criticism by those supporting Satz. I agree Satz has been an excellent public servant; but, sometimes people wear out their welcome.

    Satz’ shortsightedness regarding MSD and the building where the shooting occurred is offensive. He has lost touch with the community. Children are traumatized seeing that building everyday. Child psychologists in that area have no openings for months. Satz of course needs the building for his usual “jury view.” It’s totally ridiculous. Children are suffering and he seems to either be totally clueless or not to care.

    It’s a good thing Mr. Morton was assigned to prosecute the guy who threw his wife over the side of a boat. What would Mr. Satz have done, taken the jurors out on a boat and made them jump in the ocean? It’s time for a change. Mr. Satz is losin his loyal base.

  8. Count. LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    #6 makes a good point. NO SCANDAL in Broward Co is NOT something to sneeze at. Has Finkelstein as good a record? And Snipes n Forman n Israel ARE EMBARSSMENTS.

  9. Davie Blvd lawyer says:

    #7 – “Satz was a lawyer for eight years when he became State Attorney so Kimok’s nine years is a senseless criticism by those supporting Satz”

    How many lawyers and staff were in the SAO office in 1976 when Satz took over? A few less than 200+ prosecutors working there today, huh? If you think Kimok’s experience qualifies him to run the current SAO with more than 500 employees, you should go volunteer for Brenda Forman’s re-election campaign too.

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