Sen. Gary Farmer, who was the Senate Democratic Leader until last April, has filed to run for an open judge position in the 17th Circuit Court in Broward County, the state elections site shows.
Farmer first won election to the Senate in 2016 and was subsequently re-elected in 2020. The state’s decennial redistricting this year put him in the same district as Sen. Jason Pizzo, however. And seeking re-election would have forced the incumbents into a Primary battle.
Farmer said he was considering a bid for Congress when U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch announced he would not be seeking re-election to the congressional seat he’s held since 2010.
Farmer could not be reached for comment Thursday.
If elected, the Lighthouse Point Democrat would be replacing Judge Barbara McCarthy. McCarthy did not seek re-election to her position even though, at age 69, she is still younger than the mandatory retirement age for judges. Gov. Charlie Crist appointed McCarthy to the bench in 2009 and she was subsequently elected in 2010 for the first time.
Two other candidates have also qualified to run for the Group 23 seat, Michael Ahearn of Wilton Manors and Tania Williams, whose campaign documents list her in Coral Gables. The state election department shows that Rhoda Sokoloff of Fort Lauderdale, like Farmer, is listed as an “active” candidate.
Farmer was ousted from his leadership role in the Senate three days before the end of the 2021 Session. He faced a no-confidence vote after days of intra-party turmoil, leading to the current Democratic Senate Leader, Lauren Book, taking over. She won the unanimous support of her Senate colleagues.
Farmer has been a fiery speaker in the Legislature, representing the more liberal wing of the party.
He sounded the alarm over the proposed public review of school books as a Senate committee debated whether to allow the public to participate in limiting what books are used in schools.
“The book banning, or book limitation provisions scares the you-know-what out of me,” he said in one committee hearing this past Session, recalling that Nazis put Helen Keller’s book in a fire.