Note: This blog's templates will be updated this afternoon to a responsive design bringing it in line with

At that time, we will also change to the Facebook commenting system. You will need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment.

« Rick Perry backtracks on 'heartless' comment | Main | Al Cardenas warns there's a GOP downside to the extended primary calendar »

Former Broward County Sheriff Nick Navarro dies

Nick NavarroNick Navarro, a flamboyant former undercover narcotics detective who served two terms as Broward County sheriff, died Wednesday. He had been ill with cancer.

The Cuban-born Navarro sent shock waves through Broward's overwhelmingly Democratic political establishment when he announced he would run for sheriff in 1984. The job had long been a patronage machine for Democrats, and Navarro's candidacy was a threat to that (the job was then occupied by a former county judge, George Brescher, who was appointed to the post by Gov. Bob Graham after Bob Butterworth resigned to take a state appointment in Tallahassee).

Further stoking the controversy was the fact that Navarro, a former Democrat, had switched parties to run as a Republican less than six months before filing his candidacy papers. The law at the time required a six-month gap between party-switching and running for office. Democrats sued to knock Navarro off the ballot, resulting in a public relations nightmare for the party -- a judge ruled that Navarro could run and voters should decide for themselves.

During his tenure, the Broward Sheriff’s Office doubled its personnel to 3,000 and saw its budget increase from $75 million to $200 million. BSO took over law enforcement for three Broward cities: Dania Beach, Tamarac and Deerfield Beach.

As sheriff, Navarro was a fixture on nightly newscasts, not always for good. His deputies set up a homemade lab where they made rocks of crack cocaine to use in sting operations at a time when the streets of Broward County were ravaged by the drug.

He arrested a Fort Lauderdale record store owner for selling copies of rapper Luther Campbell's raunchy album, As Nasty as They Wanna Be.

Other controversies chipped away at Navarro's popularity, and in a bigger shock than his 1984 election. Republicans ousted him from office in the 1992 primary election, which drew only a tiny fraction of voters because it was held shortly after Hurricane Andrew. More here.

-- Steve Bousquet