So much money in sheriff's race, so little effect

Published On: Nov 12 2012 10:43:08 AM EST
sheriff-shades

Both Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti and now-Sheriff-Elect Scott Israel had big money coming from shady PACs to help smear each other. 

And it's amusing to hear what they say when asked why some of the companies backing them give them so much money. When something called Dex Imaging out of Tampa gave Lamberti $100,000 in September, the sheriff said the company must just think he's doing a good job. 

When asked about $225,000 dumped into a PAC backing him by a Massachusetts-based construction company called Middlesex Corp., Israel said the owner, one Robert Pereira, just happen to like him. 

That's some kind of friend, huh? I don't pretend to know what was really behind either of those contributions, but I'm just not buying either explanation. There is something very unsettling about having guys running to be the top law enforcer in Broward starting off with such shady electoral behavior. 

The funny thing is that all that money likely had little effect in the outcome. Israel won, in my analysis, because of the huge Barack Obama turnout and the ground game that accompanied it (please don't mention the Democratic chairman -- he rode that wave just as surely as Israel did). This time more tens of thousands of Democrats voted down the ticket to Israel instead of skipping over him like they did in 2008. Some attribute that to the slate cards, or blue cards, that were heavily pushed at the polls.  

I remember rumors coming from sources close to Lamberti that he was going to change parties from Republican to Democrat after the 2008 victory. I thought at the time that such a move, though not so honorable, was a no-brainer politically. Israel, after all, had switched parties before running in 2008 for the same reason, namely that it was almost impossible for a GOPer to win countywide election in Dem-rich Broward. Bottom line is that with the power of the office behind him, Lamberti with a D next to his name would almost surely be unstoppable. 

He didn't do it. He stuck with his party. And it cost him his job last week.

Now it's on to the transition and here's a bit of news: Israel has tapped Fort Lauderdale attorney David Ferguson to head his transition team. You may remember Ferguson from his representation of some figures in the Scott Rothstein case. I've interviewed him more than once and know him to be a very sharp guy. But the animosity between Lamberti and Israel is so great, it's going to be a difficult task that I'll follow for you.

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