What About the Third Broward Queen?
|Ritter, Lieberman, and Keechl during the power days.|
-- Stacy Ritter to Ken Keechl
Two queens of Broward down, one to go.
Former Broward Mayor Ken Keechl was beaten at the polls, so he's gone (though they're apparently planning a new Lobbyist Ken doll). Ilene Lieberman has reportedly told everyone she knows that she's leaving politics, and political friend Sheila Alu all but announced here that she is running for her seat.
So what about Stacy Ritter? What will be the fate of our third queen?
Despite charges filed against her by the Florida Election Commissions and active criminal investigations into her conduct by the State Attorney's Office, she shows few signs of slowing down. She has been holding regular (if poorly attended) coffees with voters, putting up videos of herself on YouTube, and her "chief of staff," former radio man Ken Pauli, is sending out releases about her at a regular clip. She's put on her brave fighter's face and is out there comparing her travails to those of George Washington and LeBron James.
On her Twitter page, she recently echoed NFL player Darnell Dockett, writing: "H.A.T.E.R.S = Having Anger Towards Everyone Reaching Success."
Well, she better keep up the attitude, because I hear she's in for a fight if she manages to survive in office until 2012. One name keeps coming up as someone who is almost a lock to run against her -- and it's someone who likely has the electoral power to break her already crumbling political stronghold.
Inside, we reveal the name and some other interesting details.
Well-connected sources say that state Rep. Ari Porth is going to run against the embattled Ritter.
They say that Porth, whose day job is as a state prosecutor, has already brought up the idea to his boss, Michael Satz, and that Satz told Porth that if he runs against Ritter, he will have to step down from his prosecutor job. The reason Satz gave for this was that the SAO is actively investigating Ritter, and it would be a glaring conflict of interest if he were to remain working as a prosecutor while challenging her seat.
|Porth, right, with Keechl|
This has been brewing since at least June, when Porth took aim at Ritter over her consistent efforts to derail ethics reform at both the county and state level.
"Unfortunately, instead of making policy arguments, County Commissioner Stacy Ritter continues to rail against the measure, and me personally," Porth wrote of his efforts at strengthening ethics laws. "She lobbied against its passage and scolded me publicly for working with a Republican member of our county's legislative delegation. Then she appeared at a Democratic club in Tamarac, where she used scare tactics to a largely senior audience to suggest that implementation of such an office would mean closure of parks and libraries."
Boy, does that sound like our Broward queen or what?
By the way, it's not only Porth who the political folks are talking about taking aim at Ritter's seat. It's also Parkland Mayor Michael Udine. I managed to get him on the phone, and he wasn't shy to say that he is considering a run for Ritter's seat. But he also said he's busy with family events right now and likely won't give it serious thought and make a decision until March.
The long and short of it is that Ritter is seen as vulnerable and weak, and even if she makes it all the way to the 2012 election for her commission seat, she'll almost surely face the political fight of her life.
-- Yesterday, we learned again in horrific fashion what the men and women of law enforcement face every day -- great danger while protecting the public that could turn fatal at any moment. Two Miami police officers, both of them Broward residents, were gunned down during an attempt to arrest a known violent felon. Roger Castillo, who lived in Davie, was a family man and father of three young kids. Amanda Haworth, of Margate, was a single mom. They sacrificed their lives for us. Today, try to find a way to honor them -- and all of those police officers and deputies and state and federal agents they left behind who put themselves in danger's way on a daily basis.