Challenger to Judge Hurley Adjusting to Bruising Ways of Broward Politics
|Melissa Minsk Donoho|
When I reached Donoho on Friday, she told me that she picked that race before she'd done much opposition research: "I just knew he was appointed by Gov. Crist," she says of Hurley, who was a fraternity brother of Crist's at Florida State. "He's only been on the bench for a year, and I just think the people should pick the judge."
Donaho says she knew nothing about Hurley's recent public embarrassments.
That is, allegations that Ponzi-scheming attorney Scott Rothstein played a role in helping Hurley land the appointment. Or that Hurley abused his power by summoning police to his wedding based on a single blog comment in which the address was listed. Or his very clumsy efforts at damage control.
Donoho says none of it had a role in convincing her that Hurley was vulnerable and worth challenging.
But she knows enough to recognize that she's a considerable underdog, if only because incumbents -- especially the ones who are friends of Crist's -- tend to enjoy fund-raising advantages. Asked how she would compete with that, Donoho said, "Just grassroots -- hit the campaign trail. It's going to be a matter of raising my own funds, with the help of my friends. I'm looking at this as an adventure."
Donoho has worked on both sides of criminal law. She was a prosecutor for the Broward State Attorney's Office from 1992-96. After a clerkship with a federal court judge, Donoho went into private practice as a criminal defense attorney in 2000. She likes how county court is, in effect, "the peoples' court, because so many of these defendants are pro se" -- that is, representing themselves. Minsk Donoho has never run for public office.
As for her first impressions of Broward politics? "I'm learning that it's nasty -- I don't like that very much."