A handful of Broward’s 30+ cities held their municipal elections on March 14th. While more cities are moving their elections to correspond with the federal/state races; plenty, citing a desire to keep low-key races from getting lost in the shuffle, opt for spring elections. Some elections where contentious while others proved to be blowouts.
Jefferson County, Florida, a small Democratic-leaning county just to the east of Tallahassee, is currently being sued by the ACLU over its 5 single-member commission districts, which are used for both County Commission and School Board elections. The suing parties say that the districts use prison gerrymandering to inflate the minority population of one district specifically, District 3. The issue stems from Jefferson County Correctional Institution, a jail with over 1,100 inmates. Prison populations are counted by the census for the location they are incarcerated in, not where they initially lived.
The night of the March primary in Jacksonville, I wrote that Alvin Brown had a narrow path to victory. The mayor needed to win over supporters of Bill Bishop, the moderate Republican who came in third place, and he needed to dramatically increase Democratic turnout. When all was said and done on runoff night Alvin Brown narrowly lost re-election with 48.7% of the vote. So what happened?
Jacksonville had its first round of voting Tuesday. Democrat Alvin Brown, first elected in an upset win in 2011, is seeking re-election in a hard-fought contest. Brown’s main challenger is Republican Lenny Curry, the former Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida. The race has been heated so far. Brown is facing stiff headwind due to the county’s Republican Lean. However, the Mayor’s approval rating remains above 50% in recent polls. With four candidates in the race, it was widely believed that Brown and Curry would advance to a runoff election.
As a Broward County resident for the first 19 years of my life, Broward County and its politics are still very close to me. The county, second largest in the state, has 35 cities and towns. Many of these cities host elections in the fall of even-numbered years to coincide with major races. However, many cities continue to hold elections in the spring of odd and even numbered years. March 10th saw the latest round of municipal elections for the county; with eight different cities going to the polls. The following article will contain a map of each race’s result and a quick summary of the results and events surrounding the election. While some races were fairly quiet, others were major battles for the future of the cities.
In 2013, I wrote an article on Democratic Party Strength at the local level. The article examined areas where Democrats were strong and weak on down-ballot races for county commission and constitutional officers. It has long been my view that local elections are critical to the future of any political party. Local elections allow parties to build benches for higher office. In addition, local elections can be used to help measure party strength in different jurisdictions.
Democrats across Florida are eager to see the results of the Governors Race between Charlie Crist and Rick Scott. In addition to the Crist v Scott match up, Democrats are invested in the Attorney General Election between George Sheldon and Pam Bondi, two major congressional races, and a handful of state house and senate elections. Democrats are hoping to win the Governor and Attorney General elections, knock off Steve Southerland in CD2, and keep Republicans from getting a veto-proof majority in the state house and senate. All of these races are important. However, there are also a great deal of local races that Democrats should have an interest in. Below are a listing of county commission and constitutional officer elections that I believe Democrats should keep an eye on Tuesday night.
Cooper City, FL likes to refer to itself as “someplace special.” It is a quiet little city with a population of just over 30,000–a small suburb planted in the middle of the dense urban environment of Broward County. It can be easy to miss Cooper City, but if you look for it, it’s right there in the middle of a very liberal county.
This is a cautionary tale for all those future or past candidates out there. The subject, Mr. Steve Stewart, is centered around politics in Tallahassee, Florida. However, the lessons learned can be applied across the country. It is the tale of going from being a legitimate contender for office to a full-blown perennial candidate.