As the curtains fall and the dust settles on the 2018 midterm elections, South Floridians wake up to nine new judges, a Republican attorney general and many familiar faces on the appellate bench. Numbers remain tentative as the final votes trickle in, but here’s a rundown of the judicial races in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach.
All three counties saw more than 50 percent of voters take to the polls on Tuesday, delivering their verdict on incumbent judges and judicial hopefuls after days of record-breaking turnout among early voters in South Florida.
Broward voters were torn between Allison Gilman and Jackie Powell, who were vying for a county court judgeship. Powell cinched a win with just under 52 percent of the vote.
Corey Amanda Cawthon prevailed over Tanner Channing Demmery in the race for Broward County Court judgeship. The pair were neck-and-neck in the primary elections, but the midterms saw Cawthon take a 53 percent majority.
Cawthon’s win comes just days after she was granted a last-minute injunction against what she claimed was “illegal” political action committee, which endorsed Demmery.
More than half a million people cast their vote in Miami-Dade County, which selected Assistant State Attorney Vivianne del Rio for the circuit bench.
Her opponent Renee Gordon has served as a trial attorney at the Miami-Dade public defender’s office for 22 years, but lacked a crucial 40,000 votes.
Juvenile lawyer H. James Curry gave prosecutor Maria Markhasin-Weekes a run for her money, but she ultimately took the Broward Circuit seat.
Stefanie Camille Moon was the strongest performing judicial candidate, smoking her opponent Jason Allen-Rosner and cementing a Broward Circuit judgeship with 66 percent of the vote. Moon has served in various government positions during her 22-year career, including assistant state attorney.
Scientist-turned lawyer Maxine D. Cheesman also enjoyed a comfortable lead over Marybel Reinoso Coleman, securing herself a place on the Palm Beach Circuit bench.
General Magistrate Sarah Willis also landed a seat on the Palm Beach Circuit bench, emerging strides ahead of former Palm Beach State Attorney Michael McAuliffe.
Allegra Fung lost out on the Palm Beach County Court judgeship, captured by assistant public defender Ashley Zuckerman. Fung would have been Florida’s first elected Chinese judge, had she won.
DCA judges get a thumbs up
South Florida voters opted to keep all seven DCA judges running for retention, all of whom garnered more than 70 percent of the vote and outperformed appellate judges of other districts.
Florida Supreme Court Justice Alan Lawson also survived the vote, collecting a healthy 71 percent.
Fourth DCA Judge Carole Y. Taylor proved most popular among voters, backed by 79 percent of them. Taylor has served in her post since 1998 and was appointed by Gov. Lawton Chiles.
Fourth DCA Judge Jeffrey T. Kuntz received the least support, but still locked in more than 73 percent of the vote.
Read the results:
Florida’s new ‘top cop’
Democratic attorney general candidate Sean Shaw was ultimately defeated by Ashley Moody, who amassed more than 50 percent of the vote statewide.
Moody, former federal prosecutor and Hillsborough Circuit Judge, ran a campaign centered around tackling the opioid crisis, elder abuse and support of law enforcement. She had the backing of the Florida Police Chiefs Association and Attorney General Pam Bondi, who’s reached her term limit.
Following a call from Shaw congratulating Moody on her win, she released a statement, saying, “I will work hard every day to deserve this honor, to protect Floridians, and demonstrate an unwavering commitment to what sets us apart from others, our belief in and adherence to justice under a rule of law.”
Florida also voted in favor of Amendment 4, restoring the voting rights of 1.5 million convicted felons. The measure excludes murderers and sex offenders. Voters also opted to phase out greyhound racing, following litigation before the Florida Supreme Court over whether the proposal should go on the ballot.