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Miami-Dade State Attorney, Kathy Fernandez-Rundle is being courted to second the Democratic white male candidate -- either US Rep. Jim Davis of Tampa, or state senator Rod Smith, whose district includes Gainesville -- in the upcoming gubernatorial race.  Ms. Rundle's gender and Hispanic heritage, and her South Florida demographics are seen to provide the needed balance to the ticket.

She's also an able vote-getter, having widened her margin of victory over various challengers in toughly contested past elections.  Her appeal reaches into the black and Jewish populations of voter-rich South Florida.

Rundle is not without her detractors, however.  Among them the Dade County Police Benevolent Association, which accuses Rundle of being soft on public corruption.  Perhaps because she goes after the corrupt among the police?  Carl Hiaasen, Miami Herald columnist and crime novelist, had this to say in the March 6, 2000 issue of The Nation.
Dade's reputation as the crookedest place in America is secure, thanks to Dade State Attorney Kathy Fernandez Rundle....
         When it comes to pursuing corruption, Rundle's record is even more pathetic than that of her see-no-evil, hear-no-evil predecessor, Janet Reno. That's one reason so many crooks flock to public office here--they know nobody's watching....
         In some places, prosecutors would be embarrassed if their communities were so visibly a-rot with corruption. In some places, prosecutors actually send out investigators to hunt for dishonest public officials.
         And in some places, when wrongdoing is uncovered, indictments are drawn, trials are held and an actual attempt is made to punish the crooks. Can you imagine?
         Here in Dade, the task of ferreting out graft is left to the FBI or the media. It's an icky little business, and the state attorney would prefer not to get involved.

Rundle, a career prosecutor and Janet Reno's successor, has a relatively compassionate departmental bio:

. Rundle helped write and pass the Florida Punishment Code which eliminated the former sentencing guidelines formula and allowed judges to issue stronger sentences when the crime made such actions appropriate; she led the successful effort to pass the state constitutional amendment to give local governments the right to insure that gun sales at gun shows do not allow weapons to fall into the hands of criminals and juveniles; she has been a leader in creating programs to give the victims of crime greater accessibility to the criminal court system; and was instrumental in ensuring that Miami-Dade's celebrated Drug Court became reality.  She has also successfully created a truancy intervention program to help Miami-Dade's school children avoid juvenile delinquency.  The Truancy Intervention Program (TIP) is the only anti-truancy program in the state which partners prosecutors and school administrators together in the effort to prevent crime and further a child's education.

State Attorney Fernandez Rundle was a key partner in the creation of Miami-Dade's Juvenile Assessment Center.  This facility is intended to improve the working of our juvenile justice system by collecting sufficient information on juvenile offenders in order to develop better overall justice programming, better diversion programs and create effective juvenile sentencing alternatives for offenders.  As a part of the Miami-Dade County Juvenile Crime Task Force, Kathy helped create a new pilot program aimed at juveniles who have been arrested with guns in their possession.  Recognizing the need to intervene with these kids before they commit a crime with a firearm, Kathy has brought the State Attorney's Office into a partnership with the Ryder Trauma Center of Jackson Memorial Hospital, aiming to bring the reality of living as a victim of gun violence back to those juveniles who are on the edge of potential violence.

Ever the diplomat, Rundle says in yesterday's Miami Herald

"I would never say no to any worthwhile service."
 But no is what she said when she turned down the post on the 1998 Buddy McKay ticket that lost heavily to Jeb Bush.

Florida Democratic politicos are satisfied with the possibility of her being the lt. gov. half of the ticket

"There's no question a woman or a minority person needs to be on that ticket," said state Rep. Ed Jennings, a Gainesville Democrat and the outgoing chairman of the legislative black caucus. "It's imperative that the Democratic ticket look like the Democratic Party and the state of Florida."

On the whole, finding someone who "reflects the State" seems to be the agreeable catch-phrase among Florida's Democratic movers and shakers.  

Other locals mentioned include Miami Mayor Manny Diaz; Diana Wasserman-Rubin, a Cuban-American Broward County commissioner; former Miami-Dade Commissioner Jimmy Morales, who has endorsed Davis; state Rep. Chris Smith, of Fort Lauderdale; and former state Sen. Daryl Jones, of Miami [who is African-American].

Originally posted to Limelite on Tue Jan 03, 2006 at 10:25 PM PST.

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