ELECTION 2022 VOTER'S GUIDE FOR THE DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY IN MIAMI DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA
Back by popular demand, here is my 2022 Midterm Primary Election Voter Guide for Miami-Dade County, Florida voters, in Miami Beach. Please note that I only provide guidance for the Democratic primaries, but also provide my thoughts on the non-partisan elections.
UNITED STATES SENATOR - DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY
Marco Rubio is a shameful representative for Florida and the Democrat with the best chance of unseating him is Congresswoman Val Demings. Demings, 65, is a native of Jacksonville who was elected to Congress to represent the Orlando area in 2016. A moderate voice in Congress, her work on committee assignments caught the attention of House leadership, resulting in her appointment as a prosecutor in the first impeachment trial of President Trump. Before that, she was chief of the Orlando Police Department, a position capping a 27-year career in law enforcement. As the first black woman to hold the police post, she embarked on a campaign to cut violent crime and build relationships within the community, resulting in a reduction of violent crime by more than 40 percent. As a candidate for Senate, Demings has made what should have been a cakewalk for a Republican incumbent in a politically red state much more competitive. She has proven to be a prolific fundraiser who occasionally has outraised her better-known opponent. Polls still give the incumbent the lead but at a smaller margin than many thought she would have.
Democrats should have no illusions about the tough road ahead. Rubio is favored to win in a state that has been trending red for some time now, but Demings -- a moderate who has even picked up the endorsements of police unions that typically favor Republicans -- gives us a real shot.
REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS - DISTRICT 24
Representative Wilson is a longtime incumbent who has distinguished herself as a core supporter of President Obama and Biden's agendas, and a strong opposition to Trump and his supporters. She also excels in services for constituents and is very connected to our local community. There is no reason to deny Rep. Wilson another term in office.
FLORIDA GOVERNOR - DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY
This is a challenging race against perhaps the most divisive Governor in modern Florida history. Although DeSantis barely eked out a win against Andrew Gillum, he has governed as one of the most hard right conservatives in the United States, generating buzz about a possible run for the White House. This race is the best chance we have to stop DeSantis and his hateful rise to power.
Charlie Crist clearly leads in the polls but there is no way I can ever endorse him in a Democratic primary. A political chameleon who has gone from Republican to Democrat to Independent to Democrat again, I don't trust him. I will also never forgive him for what he did in 2010 when he lost the Democratic Primary to Kendrick Meek and then proceeded to run as an Independent, splitting the liberal vote and handing the election to Marco Rubio. Of course I would take Crist any day over DeSantis, but there is no way I can support him in this race.
Luckily, Florida voters have a really great option in Nikki Fried, the only Democrat currently serving in statewide office, as Florida's Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Nikki, a Jewish woman, was born and raised in Miami, and has been a leader since her college days, when she was the first female student body president at the University of Florida in decades. As an attorney, she was head of the Felony Division at the Alachua County Public Defender’s Office and worked in private practice in South Florida, defending homeowners against foreclosure during the 2007-2008 housing crisis.Prior to being elected, Fried worked at law firms as a government consultant, advocating on behalf of clients before the Florida Legislature. In 2017, she formed her own firm to advocate in Tallahassee for at-risk children, the Broward County School Board, and for the expansion of patient access to medical marijuana.
Nikki is running a hard hitting campaign for Governor that is standing up for Democratic principles and showing the ability to fight hard against DeSantis and his backwards policies. I think she has for more integrity and principle than Crist and I am confident she will lead Florida in the right direction. She has my endorsement for Governor.
ATTORNEY GENERAL - DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY
This is a tough race for Democrats. The two main challengers, Daniel Uhlfelder and Aramis Ayala, have almost no money left from what they've spent, while the incumbent, DeSantis lapdog Ashley Moody, enjoys broad support from Republicans and is sitting on a war chest of almost $4.8 million in cash. Against this wall of money, Democrats must consider who can best taken on Moody and her vulnerabilities?
Ultimately, I think Uhlfelder has the edge. Uhlefelder has raised more money than his two opponents combined and has the biggest media profile after getting attention for his outspoken criticisms of Governor Ron DeSantis’ COVID policies and wearing a grim reaper costume in his first campaign video, which he also wore in videos criticizing DeSantis.
Uhlfelder also joined a lawsuit filed by Rabbi Barry Silver and Congregation L’Dor Va-Dor in Boynton Beach which argues that the state’s new law banning most abortions after 15 weeks violates the state constitution’s right to privacy and freedom of religion. Uhlfelder has pledged not to enforce the law if elected. Uhlfelder has also criticized Moody for being one of 10 GOP attorneys general to sign onto a brief that sought to convince the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a ruling that allowed Pennsylvania elections officials to count some late-arriving absentee ballots. His top priorities include taking on utility companies seeking rate hikes, oil companies who gouge on prices, corporate developers contributing to the lack of affordable housing, and property insurance companies who have raised rates to crisis levels.
COMMISSIONER OF AGRICULTURE
Naomi Blemur is considered the party’s best chance of retaining this office. Blemur, 43, owns a consulting firm and has a background in finance. She has served on a number of advisory committees in Miami-Dade and has raised the most money of the three candidates, although it is a very small fraction of what the Republican frontrunner has raised.The daughter of Haitian immigrants, Blemur says, "The current reality of our state calls for a strong, diverse leader with convictions. One who is not afraid to challenge the process and speak truth to power. It took 20 years for Democrats to secure this seat and we’re not going to lose it now.” Blemur was recently endorsed by Florida State Senator Annette Taddeo. This is going to be a very tough race to win against a much better funded and well known Republican opponent. but Blemur gives us our best shot.
STATE REPRESENTATIVE, DISTRICT 106
JORDAN W. LEONARD
The primary for District 106 pits former Bay Harbor Islands Mayor Jordan W. Leonard against special education teacher Gustavo Ortega. Leonard, the only serious option in this race, brings a wealth of knowledge, experience, and leadership to this race, with decades of public service behind his belt. Leonard is a past president of the Miami-Dade County League of Cities and former board member of the Florida League of Cities and South Florida Regional Planning Council. He has been widely endorsed by legislators and local elected officials through District 106. Leonard is the right choice for this blue leaning seat.
CIRCUIT JUDGE, 11TH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT, GROUP 3
I generally approach judicial elections as an opportunity to evaluate the current sitting judge; if they are doing a fine job in their non-partisan role, they usually merit retention. Of course, it is never easy for me to endorse someone who was appointed by a Republican, and Judge Lody Jean has campaigned on the fact that she was appointed by Governor DeSantis. However, she has also touted her endorsements by SAVE Dade -- the premier LGBTQ+ rights group in South Florida -- and United Teachers of Dade. She has also been endorsed by the SEUI, AFL-CIO, Police and Firefighters Unions, and a host of local elected officials from across the political spectrum. Judge Jean has gained a good reputation as a fair, impartial, and well-prepared jurist who runs her courtroom efficiently and effectively. By contrast, her opponent has a thin resume and does not inspire sufficient confidence to support removing Judge Jean from her post.
CIRCUIT JUDGE, 11TH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT, GROUP 20
I have little doubt that Brenda Guerrero could make a fine judge. She has many years of courtroom experience, mostly in family law. But she is not such an overwhelmingly obvious choice that we should vote to take away a judgeship from Judge Watson. Judge Watson, who has served for 3 and a half years, has experience as a federal prosecutor, and has earned a good reputation as a judge. He also brings diversity to the bench as one of the only openly gay members of our judiciary. I recommend a vote to retain Judge Watson.
CIRCUIT JUDGE, 11TH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT, GROUP 34
Judge Blumstein has served as a judge in our community since his first election in 2016. The Herald has criticized Judge Blumstein for his 14 reversals by the appellate court, but I value an independent thinker, and he has been affirmed 80 times, so that is a pretty solid record. He has a wealth of judicial experience as both a plaintiff and defendant, in both civil and criminal court. I do not believe his record in the Third DCA is a reason to remove him from office, and support his retention.
CIRCUIT JUDGE, 11TH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT, GROUP 52
JASON EDWARD BLOCH
We are living in a dangerous time where federal protection for abortion rights have been reversed by a radical conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court. Thankfully--for now--Florida Supreme Court precedent interpreting the Florida Constitution's Right to Privacy is protecting that right. But with religious extremists emboldened to take on abortion rights across the state of Florida, Judge Oscar Rodriguez-Fonts made the ill-fated decision of attending a celebration the the decision overturning Roe the day after it was announced and even made a speech at the event hosted by the Christian Family Coalition. This shows poor judgment. On the other hand, Jason Bloch was a Miami-Dade assistant county attorney for 20 years before he was appointed to the bench in 2014 by Gov. Rick Scott to fill a vacancy. He lost his bid for a full term in 2016. Since then, Bloch — who is independently wealthy and is self-funding his campaign — has been doing mostly pro bono work for nonprofits or in eviction cases. He’s also a member of the Miami Civilian Investigative Panel, providing oversight of the Miami Police Department, and a board member of Legal Services of Greater Miami, which provides free legal services for low-income residents. I am endorsing Judge Bloch for this seat.
COUNTY JUDGE, GROUP 5
This is an easy call. Judge Seraphin has held this position for twenty years and has an excellent reputation as a fine jurist. His opponent comes from a very political, right wing conservative family, and has gotten into some public altercations and issues which make me question his temperament and judgment. In short, Judge Seraphin has earned retention.
COUNTY JUDGE, GROUP 19
This is another example of a situation where there is no reason to not retain the sitting judge. Judge Kolokoff is the incumbent and has done an excellent job efficiently managing his caseload and operating his courtroom. He has earned retention.
COUNTY JUDGE, GROUP 42
The Herald has endorsed Janowitz's opponent, arguing that this is a tough race, but that Priovolos's community involvement gives her an edge. While I certainly have great respect for Alicia Garcia Priovolos and believe she would make a very fine judge, I must remain consistent in my thinking that judicial elections are first and foremost about whether the incumbent deserves retention. There is no reason why Judge Janowitz does not merit another term. He has a good reputation, runs an efficient courtroom, and has many years of experience. For this reason, I believe he has earned another term.