GROUP 9 – COUNTY
Judge Irizarry served less than a year on the bench when she learned only a very short time before the 5/6/2016 qualifying deadline (Dudley announced 5/2/2016) that she was being opposed by local criminal defense attorney Dwight Dudley. News articles initially indicated that Dudley was considering running in the Group 8 race ( Dora Komninos and Curtis Korsko). Judge Irizarry met that unexpected challenge with incredible vigor and got right to work. Dudley, who served as a “Democratic” Florida Representative for two terms, changed his mind and opposed the first Hispanic woman appointed to the judiciary in the 6th Circuit, a circuit that seriously lacks diversity. Personal enrichment first, party principles and core values second? During the campaign, a facebook poster, described Dudley’s campaign as a “bit shady” for putting out a misleading campaign brochure. In spite of this questionable campaign tactic, Judge Irizarry still came out triumphant on Wednesday. Notably, Dwight Dudley (who enjoyed name recognition after serving in Florida’s House) out raised Irizarry (86K to 31K). Dudley’s higher budget even allowed him to pay for campaign TV commercials. Goes to show money is not an obstacle to victory when a candidate works hard and takes a positive message to “we the people” Some within the legal and political community thought Dudley was a shoe in and that it would be difficult for an ethnic name to prevail in Pinellas. I am thrilled that Pinellas voters proved that perception to be wrong. Kudos to Judge Irizarry for the way you conducted yourself as a candidate, with utmost class and professionalism. Congrats on your much deserved win!