Update on judicial races in Miami-Dade — forums, funds and endorsements

It’s not strange that a bunch of Republican candidates for this or that office, even non partisan county seats, were at the Christian Family Coalition’s 2022 Miami-Dade Legislative Victory & Candidates Breakfast last month, pandering for the ultra conservative vote. But a judicial candidate?

Incumbent Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Oscar Rodriguez-Fonts took a few minutes to speak to the crowd assembled at the event, featuring Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez, where organizers celebrated the recent reversal of Roe vs. Wade by the Supreme Court, which has, ironically, shone a light on how important judicial races are.

It doesn’t matter what Rodriguez-Fonts said. Should he have been there?

Read related: 14 Miami-Dade judicial candidates qualify for county, circuit court races

Ladra thought that judges and judicial candidates were forbidden from making overtly political statements. It certainly caught people’s attention that he was even there.

But what a lot of people don’t realize is that there’s an influence war going on between the Christian Coalition and SAVE (formerly SAVE Dade), which even asks candidates on their questionnaire if they’ve responded to the Christian Coalition’s questionnaire.

The latter’s endorsements aren’t out yet, but they’ll endorse whoever SAVE snubbed. SAVE has endorsed incumbent Miami-Dade Judges Fred Seraphin against former State Rep. Renier Diaz de la Portilla; Jeffrey Kolokoff against Lissette de la Rosa, and Scott Janowitz vs Alicia Garcia Priovolos. In the Circuit Court groups, SAVE endorsed Judges Lody Jean against Teresa Maria Cervera — who used to be Tessa Tylman — Robert Watson against Brenda Cabrera, Mark Blumstein against Ariel Rodriguez and former Judge Jason Bloch against sitting Judge Rodriguez-Fonts, of course.

The Miami-Dade League of Prosecutors also endorsed incumbents Seraphin, Kolokoff and Jean as well Bloch, who is sort of an incumbent since he was a judge two years ago. But they surprisingly went for Garcia Priovolos over Janowitz, which says a lot about the sitting judge.

What was also telling was who they didn’t endorse. There was no endorsement in two races, which can be seen as referendums against incumbents Blumstein and Watson. After all, these are the attorneys that go before these incumbents every day. A non endorsement is a snub.

No big surprises, however. Incumbents are safe. And, usually, better funded.

Read related: Candidate Renier Diaz de la Portilla doesn’t meet judicial canon standards

As of the latest campaign reports filed with the state Monday, Watson, who had loaned himself $50,000, still had $130,850 or so after spending more than $78,000. Guerrero, who probably has litigated more cases than the rest of the candidates combined, loaned herself $10K for a total haul of $52,350. she has spent more than half of that, however, and has about $23,225 in hand. Blumstein has a huge wad left, almost $211,000 from his total of $239,260, of which $60K is a loan from himself. Ariel Rodriguez raised $48,250 ad loaned himself another $16,230. After spending almost $13K, he’s got about $51,650 left.

Rodriguez-Fonts, the Christian Coalition guy, has raised $144,825 and spent $33,331 so he still has $113,494. Bloch hasn’t reported raising any funds but has loaned himself $113,500. But because he has spent more than $78,000, he’s got about $35,250 left. Judge Jean is also going into the absentee ballot week comfortably with $260,200 in hand from the $360,000 she had once (including a $100K loan to herself). Cervera/Tylman/Whoever has about $65,350 left of her $111,325, which also includes a $100K loan to herself.

On the county bench, the incumbents are not guaranteed to be the best funded candidates. Sure, Kolokoff reported a whopping $391,370, but most of that — a whopping $325,000 — is loaned to himself. That means that de la Rosa, who has not loaned herself a single dime, has outraised him with $75,685 coming from actual supporters. She has spent $23,000 and he has spent $15,000 as of Monday, so she’s going to have to keep collecting checks.

In the other two races, the incumbents are trailing.

Seraphin, who Diaz de la Portilla targeted because he hadn’t raised any money, had collected less than half his challenger with $42,435 to Fredo’s $96,380, much of which has come from the city of Miami interests who want favor from his brother, Miami Commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla. In his latest report, Baby DLP had $15,000 in bundled checks from real estate investor developer Lewis Swezy. Diaz de la Portilla has spent $27,800, including $10,000 in signs and a bunch of rides on Lyft. Seraphin has spent $21,600 on nothing special.

Read related: Renier Diaz de la Portilla raises judicial race funds from big bro’s city interests

Garcia Priovolos has also outraised the incumbent: With a little help from a $50K loan, she has collected $167,926 compared to a total of $43,343 reported by Janowitz, who is in real trouble Because while she has spent a little more than $32,000, including $5,400 for ads on Spanish-language 670 AM La Poderosa, Janowitz has blown almost all of his nut, or $40,000, including $30K to his political consultant Pedro Diaz.

Tylman — or Cervera or whatever her name is today — hasn’t been to a single forum, by the way. People think it’s because she doesn’t want to talk about her changing her last name to run for office. She is scheduled to go to the Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club in Miami Beach next week. Ladra bets she doesn’t show.

This week’s Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club meeting in Miami Beach will feature Seraphin vs Diaz de la Portilla, Kolokoff vs de la Rosa and Janowitz vs Garcia Priovolos. The forum will be moderated by former Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Góngora, who is running for mayor next year. The Circuit Court judges will be at next week’s breakfast.

These are at CAO Bakery & Cafe, 1420 Alton Rd. and also can be seen on Facebook live.

Ladra keeps hoping someone will ask Diaz de la Portilla about his living arrangements with his brother, the Miami commissioner, who had to say he lives in Baby DLP’s 2-bedroom apartment with his wife and son so he could run for office in District 1.

Make him swear on a bible first.