The Florida Bar

Florida Bar News

Voters decide seven state attorney and three public defender primaries

Senior Editor Top Stories

State Seal of FloridaThree incumbent state attorneys staved off challengers while one incumbent public defender was defeated as 10 primaries for state attorney and public defender offices were decided by Florida voters in the August 18 primary.

All results are unofficial tallies from the Secretary of State’s Division of Elections website.

Long-time 11th Circuit State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle fended off a challenge in the Democratic primary from Melba V. Pearson, 61.5% to 38.5%. It’s her seventh election win since assuming the post in 1993. No other candidates filed, so all voters regardless of party affiliation were able to vote.

In the 12th Circuit Republican primary, incumbent State Attorney Ed Brodsky defeated Lisa Chittaro, 66.6% to 33.4%. He faces Democrat Betsy Young in November.

In the 16th Circuit Republican primary, incumbent Dennis W. Ward defeated Mark E. Kohl 66.9% to 33.1% and faces Democrat Donald C. Barrett in November.

In the Second Circuit Democratic primary for public defender, incumbent Andy Thomas lost to Jessica Yeary, 64.2% to 35.8%. Since no other candidates filed, all voters were able to cast ballots and Yeary has won that post.

The most crowded contest was in the 17th Circuit. There, eight candidates filed in the Democratic primary for state attorney, plus one Republican and one not party affiliated in the general election to replace long-time State Attorney Michael Satz. In addition, three candidates filed in the Democratic primary plus one write-in for the general election to replace Public Defender Howard Finkelstein.

In that state attorney contest, Harold Fernandez Pryor won with 21.3% of the vote, and will face Republican Gregg Rossman and no party affiliated candidate Sheila D. Alu in November. For the other primary candidates, David Cannady got 6.5%, Teresa Fanning-Williams got 13.9%, Joe Kimok got 19.4%, James “Jimmy” Stewart Lewis got 4.8%, Justin McCormack got 4.2%, Sarahnell Murphy got 17.5%, and Joshua David Rydell got 12.45%.

On the public defender side, Gordon Weekes received 48.1%, besting Ruby Leona Green with 31.8% and Tom Lynch with 20.1%. Weekes faces write-in candidate Brion Ross in November.

In the only other public defender race on the primary ballot, in the Seventh Circuit Matt Metz got 38.4% of the vote to defeat Anne Marie Gennusa with 32.5% and George Burden with 29.1%. No other candidates filed, so Metz will replace incumbent Public Defender James S. Purdy.

In other state attorney primary contests:

• In the Third Circuit, John F. Durrett defeated Tina Seifert 59.4% to 40.6% in the Republican primary. Since no other candidates filed, Durrett will replace Acting State Attorney David A. Phelps who was appointed when State Attorney Jeff Siegmeister stepped down for personal reasons.

• In the Ninth Circuit, Democratic primary, Monique Worrell won a four-way race with 42.7% of the vote. She bested Deborah Lynne Barra with 19.6%, Belvin Perry, Jr., with 31.5%, and Ryan Williams with 6.3%. Worrell faces only no party affiliated candidate Jose Torroella in November to replace retiring State Attorney Aramis Ayala.

• In the 14th Circuit, Larry Basford got 75.5% to defeat Wes Hatcher with 24.5% in the Republican primary. No other candidates filed, so Bashford will replace retiring State Attorney Glenn Hess.

Aside from those noted above, other general elections contests on the ballot include in the Seventh Circuit where incumbent Republican State Attorney R.J. Larizza faces Don Dempsey, with no party affiliation, and in the 13th Circuit where incumbent Democrat Andrew Warren is being challenged by Republican Mike Perotti.

News in Photos