Primary Results: What Political Consultant Won’t Be Putting On Their Resumes





Here is another lesson to remember for anyone considering running for office:

Broward’s political consultant establishment, that handful of “experts” who get thousands of dollars to win races, took it on the chin in the primary.

Here are the consultants who won’t be bragging about Tuesday’s primary and why:


  • Judy Stern. This consultant for three decades in Broward handled former state Rep. Joe Gibbons race for County Commission. He lost.
  • David Brown. Another veteran Broward consultant, he ran the campaigns of State House candidate Steve Perman and Judicial candidate Andrea Gundersen. Both lost, with Perman getting buried. (Brown did manage the winning campaign of School Board member Nora Rupert.) 
  • Barry Harris.  A longtime fixture in the Democratic Party and a consultant, he was managing his wife Julie Sharpiro Harris’ judicial campaign. She lost.
  • Barbara Miller, Brown and Michael Kaplan.  They were part of incumbent Circuit Judge Steve Feren’s campaign team. He lost.

Miller, Kaplan and Feren’s wife, Sandy Feren, were said to be behind the judge’s horrendous attack piece on opponent John Contini. I don’t know if the piece lost him the race, but it didn’t help as the results proved.


Other results from consultants:


  • Dan Lewis. This Broward veteran advised winning judicial candidate John Contini, who beat Feren.
  • Amy Rose.  With Barbara Miller as her mentor, Rose has been tearing up Broward’s political structure in recent years.  She helped win four big ones on Tuesday: School Board member Abby Freedman. Rose helped Freedman fight off determined opposition from Parkland and from some of the leadership of Kings Point condominiums. She also helped County Commission candidate Beam Furr and state House candidates Kristin Jacobs and  Joe Geller. She had a very good night, despite the loss of School Board candidate Nick Sakhnovsky.


imageKristin Jacobs (left) celebrating with Amy Rose


  • Mike Ahearn. A relative newcomer with only a decade under his belt, he had a mixed record.  He managed judicial candidate Russell Thompson, who came in third in a four-candidate race. Thompson spent $120,000 of his own, compared to less than $40,000 for front runner Rhoda Sokoloff  and second-place Dennis Bailey, who was managed by Stern.

  Ahearn also managed Claudia Robinson, who made it to a runoff with Judge Ian Richard.  Here’s the most amazing part, perhaps proving that a female name helps: Robinson spent less than $10,000, while Richards spent more than $100,000.

 And Ahearn helped County Commission candidate Ken Keechl win after two losses in a row.

  • Alain Jean. He handled the uphill struggle of Judge Lynn Rosenthal, who pulled off a tough victory after being arrested during the campaign.

But Jean helped judicial candidate Jonathan Kasen, who was beaten despite spending more than $100,000. Kasen, backed by a number of courthouse figures who wanted to get rid of Judge Richards, lost a place in the runoff  for county court to Robinson, who spent less than $10,000.

He also was being paid by losing School Board candidate Sakhnovsky.

  • Ashley Walker.  Best known for helping run Florida’s Obama campaign, she guided two winning primary races – County Commissioner Barbara Sharief and judicial candidate Stacey Schulman.


Ashley Walker


Sheriff Scott Israel did spectacularly on Tuesday.  He endorsed six Democrats in the primary — County Commission candidates Beam Furr and Keechl, state House candidate Kristin Jacobs, County Commissioner Barbara Sharief, state House candidate Joe Geller and School Board candidate Felicia Brunson.  Only Brunson lost.

County Commissioner Sue Gunzburger successfully helped pick her successor — Furr.   She worked for the past year tirelessly raising money and making calls for Furr.  He beat state Rep. Joe Gibbons.

And I must put in a word for activist Mary Fertig and her clutch of volunteers.

Two years ago, Fertig engineered School Board member Donna Korn’s win over much better-funded Democratic Party darling Franklin Sands. This year, she helped political novice Heather Brinkworth beat the Democratic Party favorite Nick Sakhnovsky and a second candidate, Sam Budyszewick.

Fertig proved again that you don’t need a high-priced consultant to win.

And the results of the election proved once again that hiring a high-priced consultant is no guarantee of victory.


(Personal disclosure:  The legal firm of Mary Fertig’s husband, Chris Fertig, has handled a number of legal issues for me.)



28 Responses to “Primary Results: What Political Consultant Won’t Be Putting On Their Resumes”

  1. Wondering says:

    Buddy, you forgot Amy Rose who handled Kristin Jacobs campaign.


    Indeed I did forget Amy Rose. Thanks for reminding me. I added her to the story.

  2. Ha Ha Ha says:

    So now we have Lynne “Reckless Driving” Rosenthal re-elected (57-43), John “History of lying & skirting the law” Contini (51.5-48.5), Ann “Nigger Heaven” Murray (51-49), and Abby “Bus Threat” Freedman (52-48). Also, Rhoda “Coloring Book” Sokoloff received more votes than any of her three opponents…

  3. Alan jean is a loser says:

    First, Kasen was all but anointed by Parrish Dutko and the old guard. He had most of the endorsements amd blew 100k.He laid jean big big bucks to come in last. Secondly Alan won with rosenthal, true, but everyone knows he was tied to the eco that went after mclawrence because he was back and had a driving on a suspended license 20 years ago with a mugshot. People in the black community will not forget that for a very long time.

  4. Andrew Markoff says:

    One lesson to learn may be that it’s simply very difficult now if not nearly impossible to win more votes than just about any woman on a Democratic or non-partisan ballot.


    I agree with you on some races. Certainly not president or governor or other top-of-the-ticket contests.

    Numerous studies of voter behavior have shown that woman have an advantage in certain types of races — low-information, down ballot contests in places where a lot of women vote. That’s the definition of Broward judicial and School Board races. Very few voters appears to be swayed by all those expensive mailers in those type of races. Women vote for women and some men vote for women. This is especially true in School Board races, where the electorate seems to believe women do a better job (They obviously haven’t studied the Broward School Board carefully!!!).

    Sokoloff is an interesting case. She won a runoff spot in her judicial race, after several previous tries. She got few endorsements and was dismissed by the courthouse establishment. Why did she get into a runoff and Andrea Gundersen didn’t?

    Maybe its because Sokoloff is familiar to voters due to her previous runs. She has a Jewish, non-threatening female name (Gundersen sounds vaguely German, which could turn off older Jewish voters?). Sokoloff is pleasant, appealing and had a good story when talking to voters. Who knows? Your guess is as good as mine.

  5. Good or Bad says:

    David Brown has yet to show he can win an election. He’s lazy, and all he does is throw mud at people. Maybe he should find him a new “hobby”, because consulting is NOT it. LOSER! And I mean that literally.


    Brown has won many races over a three-decade long career in Broward.

  6. Owl says:


    Mike Ahearn also represented at least two Judges who did not get opponents but who many expected might. He earns points for those victories as well.

    Ashley Walker was heavily involved in some Broward judicial campaigns as far back as 2006. She does a great job. Also, despite Julie Shapiro Harris’ loss, she and Stacey Schulman clearly ran the most “judicial” campaign.


    I must admit some prejudge here because I believed Stacey Schulman was one of the best younger judicial candidates I have seen in years. She is experienced, intelligent and has a great demeanor. She will make a great judge.

    And, I agree: She won with “judicial” campaign which focused on her background. The campaign was a credit to her and Ashley Walker.

  7. Wait says:

    Did Ashely Walker actually spend a single day working on either of those races ?


    She talked to me about them.

  8. Ghost of McLovin says:

    As a Republican, I had absolutely no interest in voting and was going to skip this one…until I received Steve Feren’s flyer in the mail – best feeling ever knowing that Contini beat him. Signed, right-wing nutjob

  9. count l f chodkiewicz chudzikiewicz says:

    I am no courthouse expert but the few times i was in the courthouse she xeemed to be pleasant to the staff n seemed to be treated as knowledgeable at the brief events i saw

  10. Really? says:

    Brown orchestrated Rupert ‘s landslide victory for school board. And it was a clean campaign. Well done, purposeful marketing and low budget . Classic butt spanking.


    Not much of a challenger, but you are absolutely right. So Brown as 1 to 2 in the primary.

  11. Michael G. Ahearn, Esq says:


    A couple of names that I believe deserve mention are Libby Eddy who ran the Rhoda Sokoloff campaign, Ms. Eddy is certainly an up and comer who did a great job.

    Bill Lewis and Lee Cohn, as well deserve mention and most of the credit in regards to Judge Contini. Where there was John, these guys were in the foxhole with him at all times.

    Congratulations to everyone who was successful last night. To those who were not, you take the hit, learn from it and move on.

    To OWL, thanks for the kind words. I am very grateful for the Judges who hired me and who did not get opponents. I did my part but there were great guys, who would have won easily were they opposed.

  12. FTL Voter says:

    I remember Lori Parrish coming on here a few weeks ago and endorsing a giant list of candidates in the primary. As everyone knows, Parrish is the political boss of Broward and has the clout to make or break candidates. So, how did she do with her list of candidates…….

    Levoyd Williams – LOST BIG!
    Steve Perman – LOST BIG!
    Alexandra Davis – LOST BIG!
    Jahra McLawrence – LOST!
    Steve Feren – LOST!
    Julie Shapiro Harris – LOST!
    Jonathan Kasen – LAST PLACE!
    Felicia Brunson – LOST!
    Bob Mayersohn – LOST!


    Absolutely true. I forgot to include her. Thanks

  13. Kim says:

    How did Lisa Aronson do?


    She is in the county commission primary that was postponed until November due to a legal challenge over a write-in candidate.

  14. The Biggest D/Loser says:

    You must admit that the biggest loser in all of this is not Holness but Parrish. Has her endorsement become the kiss of death? Davis, Gibbons, Feren, McLawerence, Brunson, Mayersohn, Sakhnovsky just to name a few. Maybe we can ask her to endorse Rick Scott.


    The Holness piece was written before all the results were in. I never wrote he was “the biggest loser.” He was a big loser.

    I agree that Parrish was a big loser, but she wasn’t as involved as Holness. Nor is she seeking to take over the county commission or the rest of the Broward political world.

    I have added Parrish to the original post.

  15. You forgot another says:

    Another big loser: Consultant/State Rep Katie Edwards

    LeVoyd Williams, he client, lost big

    Nan Rich, her endorsed candidate, lost big. Edwards was the mastermind behind those Progressive Choice mailers

    Check the funding sources on the doe site as well as her financial disclosures

  16. Kevin Hill says:

    The coloring books had a loss (Shapiro Harris) and a runoff (Sokoloff).

    And I missing anybody?

    And will Sokoloff put out an all-new coloring book in October?

  17. Kevin Hill says:

    Also, look at the $$$ spent. In Dade, we had almost $2 million spent on a County Commission race in South Dade…. and in Broward we get $20,000 raised by incumbents who win in larger School Board districts.


  18. Ha Ha Ha says:

    “Gundersen sounds vaguely German” – actually, it’s Norwegian/Danish…


    It is Scandinavian. However, it sounds vaguely German to some I spoke to on Tuesday.

  19. Roger Stone says:

    Mike Ahearn stand out winner. Chip In deep shit. Kudos also to Amy Rose. Influence peddler Judy Stern needs to start packing- she and her nasty daughter are done.


    Please check out Roger Stone’s new book “Nixon’s Secrets: The Rise, Fall and Untold Truth about The President, Watergate and the Pardon.”

  20. Ha Ha Ha says:

    Other noteworthy results:

    * In the Attorney General race, George Sheldon very soundly defeated Perry Thurston. Sheldon even got over 45% of the vote in Broward County (Thurston’s home field). Thurston should not have wasted time and resources on a futile run against Sheldon.

    * In County Commission District 6, Beam Furr got elected & “Jacksonville Joe” Gibbons earned a bus ride back home to North Florida.

    * In County Court Group 27, Ian Richards was the top vote-getter with 43.5%, far ahead of both Robinson (32.6%) and Kasen (24%).

    And a final note to the political mercenaries like Alain Jean who beat down good candidates with despicable low blows in order to line their pockets with the money of bad candidates who are then elected – I wonder if selling out so shamelessly makes you feel good about yourself, and whether you now have so little conscience left that you can still sleep well at night.

  21. Ha Ha Ha says:

    @16 – Ann Murray also spent big on Mastermailer. $5,700 on 8/19, $4,200 on 8/5, $2,400 on 7/21, $4,800 on 6/23, for a grand total of $17,100 to Mastermailer.

  22. Oh really says:

    Perry Thurston only did this as a favor and if Charlie Crist gets elected Perry will be rewarded for his efforts. Research Alain Jean’s pervious runs for office. You will see Perry beat him like a drum. As well as others. I saw Richards campaign manager talking with Barbara Miller yesterday in Pompano. He said it was his first time meeting her and asked who is she. Jahra’s campaign was ran by Kevin Kulik and friends. Buddy can you tell us more about who ran Jahra’s campaign

  23. Observer says:

    What the Richards, Robinson, Kasen race showed me that good grass roots campaigning can beat the big $$$.

    Robinson has been a fixture campaigning and was on Adele Berger’s Palm Card with no money.

    Richards isn’t a shoe in. 57% of the vote was against him.

    Wait til Robinson gets some money to get her message out. Richards is done.

    How useless are the old guard endorsements?

    The PBA is about 50/50 they spent a lot of time and money backing Gibbons. That was “their” race and they were soundly defeated.

    They backed Mayersohn and Sahkovsky and Brunson. They backed Feren, Bailey, and Kasen.

    And they endorsed Perman.

    Well they did get Shulman, Rosenthal, Crist, Hastings, Dubose, Keechl, and Sharief right…

    BTU didn’t fair much better.

  24. A Block off the Circle says:

    Mr. Ahearn had the deepest pocket candidate in Russell “150k” Thompson and all he had to do was come in second place. Mr. Ahearn’s man came in last place blew an mound of cash and was soundly whipped by (drum roll please!) Judy Stern and Norm Leonard (and his coloring book).
    Not good for a consultant who sees himself as the go-to-guy for those who want to eithe stay or get on the bench.
    So the candidate that Mr. Ahearn consulted got whipped and the one he didn’t help (Robinson) made it to the run-off. Also, sitting judges may think twice now that Mr. Ahearn is going after a well respected minority judge (Richards) when looking for consultants in the next go-around.
    p.s. way to go Beam!!!

  25. Michael G. Ahearn, Esq says:

    Mr. Stone, thank you for the comment above. To say I am humbled by you kind words would be an understatement.

    As for Russ Thompson, I don’t celebrate the wins and hide from the losses. Dennis and Rhoda ran good races and beat us. I congratulate them both.

  26. Retired Lawyer says:

    @ Mr Ahearn

    You’re running against an incumbent. An incumbent who by most accounts is doing a good job. An incumbent who is African American in a county seriously lacking in diversity.
    I don’t see any incumbents, other than Dale Ross, feeling warm and fuzzy with you.
    Frankly, I think you like to stir the pot to drum up business. You are no better than Judy Stern. She plays that game too.
    I don’t see an incumbent hiring you or Stern or Miller/Rose. You are all interested in your pocket books and nothing more. Politicians/Judges are better off without your types.

  27. Observer says:


    From my understanding Mrs. Robinson is a “protected” class minority that’s also lacking on the bench.

    Is it possible that Mrs. Robinson chose to run against Mr. Richards because of his misogynistic comments from the bench.

    Did you know that Mrs. Robinson only entered the race AFTER Mr. Kasen challenged the incumbent?

    Perhaps Mr. Retired Lawyer you should learn the facts before you speak.

    Remember, ’tis better to be thought a fool than open your mouth and remove all doubts.

  28. Ha ha ha says:

    Observer = Mike Ahearn