Katherine Fernandez Rundle Is No Janet Reno
Katherine Fernandez Rundle is no Janet Reno. Miami-Dade's top prosecutor, who is a Democrat, was mentored by Reno, who was Bill Clinton's attorney general. But now Rundle should just switch parties and embrace her GOP supporters. In case you haven't heard, she's in a dogfight with African-American criminal defense attorney Rod Vereen to win the August 14 Democratic primary.
The primary, which also includes two write-in candidates, has been closed to Republican and independent voters thanks to a 2000 opinion from then-Secretary of State Katherine Harris that said write-in candidates constitute legitimate opponents.
A pair of prominent Miami Republican lawyers, including an attorney who was on the team supporting George W. Bush during the 2000 recount, are going to bat for Rundle. Can you believe that?
Roberto Martinez, a former U.S. attorney for South Florida, is representing Armando Lacasa, a former Miami commissioner, who sued the Miami-Dade elections office in federal court last week in an attempt to open the primary to Republican and independent voters. U.S. District Judge William Zloch dismissed the complaint because he said Lacasa had to sue the secretary of state, not the county's elections department, to challenge the law.
Rundle is afraid Vereen will beat her because she has lost support among Miami-Dade African-American voters, most of whom are Democrats. The reason: Rundle prosecuted popular black city commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones, who was later cleared. And she failed to go after the Miami cops who fatally shot seven unarmed black men between 2010 and 2011.
In 2000 and 2004, despite facing Republican challengers, Rundle -- who is Cuban-American -- won a majority of Miami-Dade's Cuban-American Republican vote. She won re-election in 2008 with no opposition. Rundle, Martinez, and Lacasa are making a big stink about GOP voters being disenfranchised because they can't vote in the upcoming primary. Basically, you have two Republican power brokers complaining that a Democrat doesn't have a fair shot in an election. Ain't that something?
But Rundle wouldn't need her GOP benefactors to bail her out if she had done her job right. Instead, she's been the press-conference prosecutor, real evidence be damned. Rundle is always quick to brag to the media when she goes after a high-profile case. And I'm not just referring to Spence-Jones.
Rundle made a big deal when she charged Tyler Weinman, the young man from Palmetto Bay who was wrongfully accused of killing 19 cats in 2009. But when the case fell apart a year later, she didn't publicly apologize. And that is why she will never hold a candle to her mentor, Janet Reno, who handpicked Rundle to be her successor.
When Reno was state attorney, she never let the media dictate her prosecutions. Reno never played politics. The same can't be said about Rundle.
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