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Sun Sentinel: LGBT Democrats recommend choice for governor

The Dolphin Democrats, the party’s LGBT political caucus in Broward County, is leaning toward Andrew Gillum for governor.

It’s a “recommendation,” not an “endorsement.” And it results from a relatively small straw poll of voting members at the organization’s July meeting.

In local primary contests, the Dolphins endorsed two primary challengers, giving thumbs down to two incumbents currently serving in the state House of Representatives.

In the statewide primaries, official endorsements won’t come until the end of July when the LGBTA Democrats from around the state meet in West Palm Beach.

Still, a signal of support from the Dolphin Democrats, one of the party’s most active political groups in Broward is something each of the five Democrats for governor sought.

In recent weeks Gillum, Jeff Greene, Gwen Graham, Chris King and Philip Levine made pilgrimages to Wilton Manors, the de facto gay capital of South Florida, to appear before meetings of the Dolphins, the state LGBTA Democratic Caucus, and the Broward chapter of the Women’s March Florida. A key to winning a straw poll involves the campaigns making sure supportive members turned out.

At the July 11 Dolphins meeting, Gillum received 18 votes, Graham received 9, Greene got six and Levine got 4.

The group made official endorsements in several legislative primaries:

  • Saima Rais Farooqui, who is running against state Rep. Kristin Jacobs in the 96th District, which takes in all or parts of Coconut Creek, Coral Springs, Margate, Parkland and Pompano Beach.
  • Paulette V. Armstead, who is challenging state Rep. Patricia Hawkins-Williams in the 92nd District, which takes in all or parts of Deerfield Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Lauderdale Lakes, Margate, North Lauderdale, Oakland Park, Pompano Beach and Tamarac. The group’s website identifies Armstead as the Dolphins vice president.
  • Andrew Dolberg, one of five Democrats seeking the party’s nomination in the hotly contested 98th House District, which is an open seat being vacated by state Rep. Katie Edwards-Walpole. The district takes in all or parts of Davie, Plantation, Sunrise and Weston.
  • State Sen. Gary Farmer in the 34th Senate district. He’s being challenged by former state Rep. Jim Waldman, who came in third in a three-way primary in the district in 2016, and is seeking the nomination again this year. The district is most of Broward east of Interstate 95.
  • State Rep. Jared Moskowitz over challenger Imtiaz Ahmad Mohammad in the 97th District, which takes in all or parts of Coral Springs, Plantation, Sunrise and Tamarac.
  • Javier Estevez over Ross Hancock in the 105th state House District. The district has some of of Miramar plus a large section of northwest Miami-Dade County and part of Collier County. “As a proud member of the LGBTQ community I promise to fight to bring full equality to Florida and to never be silent. I won’t let you down,” Estevez wrote on Twitter.

Endorsements in contested Democratic primaries require a two-thirds vote of the members, Dolphins president Scott Herman said. Candidates complete questionnaires and can appear before the group’s members.

The Dolphins also endorsed Emma Collum, who is running for state House in the 93rd District, which includes all or parts of Deerfield Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Lighthouse Point, Oakland Park, Pompano Beach, Wilton Manors, Hillsboro Beach, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea and Sea Ranch Lakes.

Collum is the only Democrat in the race.

The organization has also endorsed several incumbent judges who are being challenged in nonpartisan elections and candidates for open judgeships.

The judicial contests are nonpartisan elections held on Aug. 28, the same day as the primary. Unlike party primaries, open only to registered Democrats or Republicans, all voters can participate in the judicial contests.

In circuit court races, the organization endorsed Ernest Kollra (incumbent), Shari Africk-Olefson, Stefanie Moon, Susan Alspector, Richard Brian Kaplan, Dan Casey and James Curry.

In county court races, the Dolphins recommended Corey Cawthon, Robert Diaz (incumbent), Michael Davis (incumbent), Jackie Powell, and Robert Lee (incumbent).

Endorsements from organizations that review the contenders are especially prized by judicial candidates, whose contests don’t carry party labels and about whom voters don’t have much information.

By Anthony Man

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