State Senate Race Heats Up With New Candidate








In what promises to be one of the most expensive Democratic campaigns in Florida next year, an open state Senate seat now has a second well-healed candidate.

Parkland millionaire Gary Farmer quietly filed for west Broward’s state Senate District 29 this week. For the past two years Jim Waldman, a millionaire former state House member who lives in Coconut Creek, had the field to himself.



Gary Farmer 


Both are lawyers. Both are Democrats running in the 2016 election for an overwhelmingly Democratic district which currently stretches from Deerfield Beach, Coconut Creek and Margate south along both sides of the Sawgrass Expressway ending in Southwest Ranches.

The district is not anticipated to be seriously altered in the upcoming special session on redistricting.

Farmer is a former president of the Florida Justice Association, which used to be known as the Florida Academy of Trial Lawyers. He expects to have strong backing from donors and political committees associated with the legal profession.

The general counsel of Keiser University and the scion of a wealthy developer, Waldman anticipates support from those that traditionally oppose Bar candidates — businesses and the health care professions.

“It will be a very expensive race,” predicted Waldman this week.

“Campaigns require more cash than ever before,” Farmer said. “I’ve got some catching up to do. I plan to spend the next 30 to 60 days on fund raising.”

Waldman has raised over $100,000 and put over $200,000 of his own in the campaign so far.

Even bigger amounts of money will come from special interest groups and their political action committees later in the race.

Why all the interest in a Democratic race for the Republican-dominated Senate?

Because there are only 40 senators, each has more influence than House members regardless of party. Democrats are even appointed chairs of Senate committees. So an election for an open seat in the 40-member state Senate is almost always hard fought

A three-way 2008 campaign for an open Democratic seat in south Broward was a $2 million brawl that was so nasty it resulted in a defamation suit that dragged on long after state Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, won the race.



Polling Negatives




Farmer’s entrance into the race had been predicted for over a year. During that year at least one poll appeared to be gauging Farmer’s support and his weaknesses, according to two sources.

It would be an election law violation for Farmer to conduct a poll prior to filing for office, however an organization or political committee may have conducted it.

Voters in the district were asked whether Farmer’s connections to convicted Ponzi scammer Scott Rothstein would sway their vote.

A partner of the corrupt Rothstein law firm for 11 months, Farmer cooperated with investigators. He was cleared of any wrong doing by federal and state authorities and the Florida Bar.

While at the firm, Farmer and his wife Stacey gave $37,000 to Republican and Democratic candidates at the behest of Rothstein.

Waldman has negatives, too.

He was accused in the media of pretending to live out of a trailer in the district rather than his home on four acres of rural Coconut Creek. He also has eight years of votes, some of which can be construed as opposing the rights of consumers.

The poll also asked voters whether they would hold Farmer’s profession as a “trial lawyer” against him.

A third question gauged the popularity of state Rep. Kristin Jacobs, D-Coconut Creek.

A former county commission with a strong environmental record and good name recognition, Jacobs refused comment several times in the past on widespread rumors that she will jump into the Senate contest. She filed for re-election to her north Broward House seat in September, but could easily change her mind.


Family Men


Both candidates are married, have two children and live in the district.

Farmer, 51, has two daughters – one at Florida State University and a second in high school. He first met his wife Stacey in the 10th Grade in Toledo, Ohio.

An attorney largely representing plaintiffs who believe they have been wronged, Farmer has won a number of multi-million dollar verdicts in his career. He lives in a five-bedroom, seven-bathroom house that he bought for $1.2 million in 2010, according to county records.

Waldman, 57, is also married with two children. One daughter just passed the Florida Bar and his son is a student at Florida Atlantic University. His wife Angela was a legal assistant in his former law practice.

Representing Keiser University in negotiations around the world, Waldman lives in a three-bedroom, two-bath house on four acres. He bought the property for $250,000 in 2000 and recently had the land use changed to allow construction of four buildings containing five units each, according to media reports.



Jim Waldman

Jim Waldman speaks as his daughter and son look on. 


Farmer called Waldman on Monday to tell him he was filing for office.   “He was very gracious,” Waldman said.

If political prognosticators are right about this race, that could be the last time Waldman says anything nice about his opponent.





10 Responses to “State Senate Race Heats Up With New Candidate”

  1. rubik says:

    I hope Kristin runs because these two jokers are peas in a pod.

  2. Kirk Pollard says:

    I remember the stories well about Waldman living in a trailer and I remember that Waldman lied and denied them. This flagrant disregard of state law is a character flaw that Waldman can not repair.

  3. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    Why do candidates for office have to spent a zillion dollars on a race when they could simply go around and meet the voters and complain IN PERSION with each voter?
    How many voters are there in this State Senate District? Is it so spread out media such as tv ads and newspaper ads and mailings are necessary?
    Because “new” “academically insignificant” “more or less private for profit in reality” universities want more PUBLIC MONEY?
    I hate to question people I don’t know motives, but I remember a Democratic Party of FDR, Harry Truman, JFK, who didn’t run to pad their resumes, make a buck, or enrich their friends! What happened to the Democratic Party of Labor Union leaders and activists, intellectuals, and, yes, old line wealthy people who ran TO BENEFIT THE PEOPLE not just a bunch of cronies from their professional associations?
    I don’t agree with a lot of Kristin Jacobs’ ideas, but at least she has been driven with at least some if not all interest in the VOTERS, not a bunch of cronies from donors.

  4. Zowie says:

    Is the Keiser U. that Waldman is linked to one of those for-profit diploma mills that deliver millions of degrees of little or zero value on the job market?

  5. Broward Voter says:

    Since someone asked about Keiser University:

    Keiser University reaches settlement with attorney general over admissions

    Keiser University will offer thousands of its former students free retraining and guarantee its admissions counselors don’t misrepresent what the school offers, under an agreement reached Wednesday with Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.

    The resolution ends a nearly two-year investigation into the admissions process of the Fort Lauderdale-based university. Some students accused Keiser and two affiliated institutions of giving misleading or inaccurate information in areas such as costs, accreditation, transferability of credits and federal student loan terms.


  6. Randy Fleischer says:

    I am glad that Gary Farmer is running for Senate seat. He is a great lawyer committed to most of the right causes and fights hard for his clients. He is a good person and I believe he would do well representing us in Tally!

  7. Mitch P says:


    This article is of interest to my readers in Margate and Coconut Creek. I republished in a teaser with a click through to your website for the rest of the story. Does that jive with you? Thanks – Mitch


    Mitch, please reach me at in the future.

    You are welcome to publish a “teaser.”

  8. Can we have a 3rd choice? says:

    Jim Waldman is an arrogant man, who flies to Tallahassee on the Keiser corporate jet. We do not need him and his fake housing in Tallahasse, not to mention his scam on his neighbors in Creek to build condos and somehow got everyone to vote for it, even though his neighbors very strongly opposed it.

    Unless Kristin Jacobs gets in, looks like we don’t have a choice but to vote for Farmer. Lord knows we don’t need anymore trial lawyers in Tallahassee, but we certainly don’t need more of Jim Waldman.

  9. creekyfly says:

    Waldman has been the best representative of the northern part of the county for years. His commitment to his community is evident. Coconut Creek had the fortune to have Waldman serve as a commissioner and Mayor. Under his watch, the City negotiated a FANTASTIC agreement with the Seminole Tribe that has greatly benefitted all who live in Coconut Creek (which happens to be the best run City and most beautiful city in broward county, bar none)

    Waldman has been there not only for Creek but for the northern residents of Broward. He is a talented and persuasive representative.

    Waldman has EARNED his seat in the Senate.


    “Creekfly” is correct that Waldman is primarily responsible for the deal with the Seminoles that has paid the city millions.

  10. Question says:

    What about Skip Campbell? Has he ruled out running? If he were to jump in this race, it would most likely be his race to lose..