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Posted on September 12, 2016
Layne Smith ended up winning the race for Leon County Judge Seat 2, but not before the Leon County Democratic Executive Committee, lead by Allison Tant (pictured above), did their best to politicize a non-partisan judge race.
Judicial candidates are bound to campaign rules prepared by the Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee and published by the Office of the State Courts Administrator.
For example, the rules state judicial candidates when speaking at forums “should refrain from commenting on the candidate’s affiliation with any political party or other candidate, and should avoid expressing a position on any political issue.”
The obvious goal is to keep partisan politics out of judicial campaigns.
However, Ms. Tant and the Leon County Democratic Executive Committee decided to politicize the race by sending out a mailer (a portion is shown below) that tied judicial candidate Layne Smith to Governor Rick Scott. The mailer told voters Smith and Scott were “too close for comfort” and asked voters to “send a message by voting against Layne Smith.”
Layne Smith was appointed to his position by Rick Scott, just like Democrat Mike Wood was appointed Leon County Sheriff by the Governor after Larry Campbell passed away.
The mailer also offered support for Smith’s opponent, Monique Richardson under the heading “IMPORTANT DEMOCRATIC VOTER ALERT.”
The effort by Ms. Tant and the local Democratic Party failed, but it is a reminder of how partisan politics continues to contaminate non-partisan races, including judicial contests.