In an irony of ironies, the Democratic primary in the Broward County Supervisor of Elections contest looks to be headed to a recount as Army veteran Joe Scott holds a needle-thin margin over attorney Chad Klitzman.
According to Tuesday’s unofficial results, Scott leads Klitzman 24.84%-24.54%. That’s a margin of 0.3 percentage points, or 607 votes. Even if Scott holds his lead, the race appears likely to head to a recount.
The Democratic primary race also included former Broward School Board candidate Ruth Carter-Lynch, former Broward Democratic Party Chair Mitch Ceasar, ex-Broward County School Board Member Jennifer Gottlieb and Oakland Park City Commissioner Tim Lonergan.
Carter-Lynch received 18% support followed by Gottlieb at 17%, Ceasar at 13% and Lonergan at 2%.
The General Election winner will succeed Pete Antonacci, who took over for former Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes following the error-plagued 2018 election.
Antonacci did not choose to run for reelection, leaving the field open for the first time since Snipes’ appointment in 2003.
Snipes’ 16-year tenure was marred by controversy. A court ruled that Snipes’ office illegally destroyed paper ballots from the 2016 Democratic primary in Florida’s 23rd Congressional District. That prompted the Florida Division of Elections to send monitors to Broward for the 2018 election cycle.
That cycle didn’t work out much better. Broward’s ballot design was confusing for many voters and may have swung the U.S. Senate contest between Bill Nelson and Rick Scott. The county then faced delays in its recount because of machine issues.
Broward missed the deadline to report its machine recount totals by two minutes.
Snipes eventually resigned her post, giving voters a chance for a fresh start. The controversy over the U.S. Senate race shows that while the Supervisor’s position is a down-ballot contest, it can have a significant impact on other, higher-profile races.
Ceasar and Klitzman spent the most money in the contest, With Ceasar dropping nearly $172,000 and Klitzman spending more than $136,000. Two additional candidates — Gottlieb and Scott — spent nearly $100,000 as well, with Gottlieb nearing that mark in just over two months as a candidate.
Despite being a first-time candidate, the 26-year-old Klitzman made a splash. He has courted support from former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and Broward School Board Member Lori Alhadeff.
The Democratic nominee will face Catherine Seei McBreen in the General Election. Write-in candidates Adam Brass and Ellen Brodsky have also qualified. The notoriously blue-leaning county is likely to select a Democrat in November, leaving Tuesday’s primary contest as the de facto deciding race.