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Candidate challenging black legislator takes this strategy with voters: I'm a Jew, you're a Jew so vote for me. Oy vey!

With an update from Lisbon below:

A Jewish candidate trying to oust State Rep. Joe Gibbons, a black Democrat from Hallandale Beach plays up the Jewish card heavily in a recent email about his campaign in the Broward/Miami-Dade district.

Here's the June 21 email from Democrat and Surfside City Commissioner Sheldon Lisbon:

"I am writing to formally notify my friends and co-congregants that I am running for Florida State House Representative, District 100. The election is August 14th and any registered voter in the district may vote.    

This district is primarily a Jewish district composed of residents like us.

Although you will be hearing more about my campaign and what I stand for, I wanted to explain to my close friends and shul members why I choose to do this. Our community has special and unique needs that have not been never even been addressed by previous State Representatives. These include substantial issues regarding health care, elder care, hurricane insurance, condo issues, Jewish communal needs and educational programs.    

My opponent, Joe Gibbons, has never shown sensitivity to this set of needs and is supported by gambling interests and professional lobbyists.    

I believe that my work on both the Surfside Zoning and Planning Board and the Surfside Commission has been very beneficial to our community. As a State Representative I can do even more.    

Shelly Lisbon."

Gibbons, the first black house member to represent his current district, was ticked off about the email.

"The last six years in the Florida House I have represented a predominantly Jewish District," Gibbons said. Gibbons said he helped secure about $600,000 for the Holocaust Documentation and Education Center in Hollywood.

"The fact that somebody would drag race into a house race doesn't make sense," Gibbons said. "Just because you think the majority of the population is like you that's the reason people should vote for you? How about qualifications? How about experience? How about proven track record?"

It looked like Broward voters did play the Jewish card in 2008 when they tossed three judges with Hispanic-sounding names and replaced them with two with Jewish sounding last names (one winner was black and one of those Jewish winners was also Cuban.) But Broward pollster Jim Kane says judicial contests can't be compared to a state house race: judicial races are low-profile and voters learn little about the candidates so in the absence of other information, some voters will vote based on ethnic background.  

"I'm Jewish and he's not' or 'I'm Jewish and he is black' isn't going to sell in 2012," Kane said.

Based on experience, Gibbons should have the edge: he is a former Hallandale Beach city commissioner first elected to the House in 2006 and has raised $24,800. Lisbon entered the race late and has scant political experience: he won his Surfside seat with no opposition in March with 325 votes.

But here's why Gibbons' supporters have reason for concern: due to redistricting he landed in a district that is 57-43 Dade-Broward. That raises this question: can a Jewish candidate from Dade beat a black candidate in Broward in a white district with some heavily Jewish areas?

Expect Jewish politicos to jump to Gibbons' defense. "It's vile and reprehensible and betrays an unworthiness for public office," said Dan Gelber, a Jew and former state legislator who represented part of the district where Gibbons is running. "It's ethnic divisiveness at its basest level. ... Somebody who is Jewish should know better. We've been on the wrong end of that before."

We reached Lisbon and told him that Gibbons and some of his supporters found the email offensive. Lisbon says he doesn't know what all the fuss is about.

"I don't understand what he means 'offensive,'" said Lisbon. "Because I'm trying to get the Jewish vote just like he got the African-American vote? I'm trying to get everyone's vote -- the African-American and Jewish vote. .... I'm not thinking about race or whatever he is thinking about. ... I don't understand what he is getting at. He is making an issue. He has nothing to run on. ... I want the African-American vote also. Color doesn't matter to me."

We asked Lisbon if he could elaborate with examples to support his claim that Gibbons hadn't been sensitive to a long list of needs including "Jewish communal needs." Lisbon didn't cite any bills or specific examples.

"I'm just wondering why he is not putting out to the community things he has done," he said. Lisbon mentionned Gibbons' role on a Holocaust committee (probably a reference to the Holocaust Documentation Center in Hollywood) and said: "if that is the most he can boast about for helping people who are of a common culture, history, and Jewish -- being a member of some kind of committee about the Holocaust doesn't really advance the Jewish people."

Lisbon is correct that Gibbons has taken money from lobbyists and those with gambling interests -- as have some other incumbents.



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Still the people must ask the Question:
"Is it good for the Jews?"


Nelson is a Republican lite and is among the top two, or three most conservative Democrats. His helping Republicans with rightwing votes in the Senate has never endeared him to them and has alienated progressive Democrats.
In this deeply divided partisan world, Nelson deserves to get screwed.

Judith Stern

Its obvious that Representative Gibbons' opponent is unfamiliar with this district and the prior district that Representative Gibbons has always represented. Senator Dan Gelber, Senator Howard Forman, Senator Steve Geller who all have represented this area in years past, are all supporting Representative Joseph "Joe" Gibbons due to his grasp of the issues and his values for humanity that effect all people in this new coastal area, which is much of a mirror image of his current district which ran east/west versus north/south, as the needs are no different than the needs he represented as a Hallandale Beach City Commissioner and more currently as the State Representative. Unfortunately, his opponent who has only been a resident of this State for less than 5 years, lacks the depth of understanding the values and issues which are important to the People of District 100.

Mike Blowers

Very sad that a fellow Jew is using race and his religion to win the election. What experience, if any, does Lisbon have to be a legislator. I don't see it. On top of this, he's costing his town $20,000 so they can have a special election to replace him. He's hardly fiscally responsible. I don't see a sibstantive case that Lisbon is making to vote out Gibbons other than Lisbon is Jewish and a white guy. What's sad is that he may pull it off if he can outspend Gibbons and the Jewish vote goes his way. Gibbons has always been good for the Jewish people throughout his political career. I could care less that he's African American. He's a good guy and one of the leaders for the Democrats in the State House.


Just wondering- can you tell me how many bills Mr. Gibbons has passed since being elected and what those bills dealt with? Please dont use the excuse he is a Democrat- lots of Democrats get bills passed.

i got a letter last week from one of the members of my church running for local office and he asked me to support him as a fellow Catholic. Seems lots of politicans try to get support from their fellow church member these days. Better to get support from your friends and fellow parishoners than special interests and lobbyists.

eve black

I would demand an election on Yom Kipur--let's see what kind of Jew Lisbon really is!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

eve black

Lisbon's chutzpah is indicative of the man himself!! He sees himself as Moses leading his people out of the desert into the promised land!! Yet, he has no conception of the problems, concerns, needs of the district his is running in, only saying that Jews should vote for him because he is Jewish!!! I suggest the Anti-Defamation League and the ACLU censure this man who is running on a strictly racist, biased, bigoted, Anti-American platform. Sheldon Lisbon--you are a bigot of the worst kind!!

Sashi  Menkowitz

I believe that my work on both the Surfside Zoning and Planning Board and the Surfside Commission has been very beneficial to our community. As a State Representative I can do even more.    

Shelly Lisbon."

His "work" should be investigated. He attended exactly 3 Surfside meetings where his two votes amounted to advancing the Orthodox Young Israel of Bal Harbour of which he is a member and immediate past president. No conflict of interest there!

Mike Blowers

Lisbon is a fake. He has someone send out an email with the subject line, "A vote for Shelly Lisbon is a vote for the Jewish Community." It sounds like he is declaring himself Moses and wants everyone to know he's a white guy. And if we don't vote for him the "black" guy is going to take away our right to be Jewish. Lisbon must be new to politics because you don't have people sending out emails on your behalf like that. Also, Lisbon said that Gibbons role on a Holocaust committee "doesn't really advance the Jewish people." It doesn't? Also, Gibbons did help secure $600,000 for the Holocaust Documentation and Education Center in Hollywood. That seems to be very significant. Lisbon has not given is one good reason to vote for him other than he's Jewish and a white guy. But what upsets me the most is that he asked us for his vote for Commissioner of Surfside and then quits on us after just 3 weeks. He cannot be trusted with our vote. My bet is that he became commissioner for the sole reason to get his Synagogue built. After that vote was completed he had no more use for the Commissionership and left us with a $20,000 bill. By the way, it's not hard to see what Gibbons has done as a legislator. He is talking about it. And anyone who knows politics, what's most important is a legislators voting record. Do they vote for things I believe in and vote against things I believe are bad. Based on this I see no reason to vote against Gibbons, especially considering Lisbon's inexperience and his behaviors.

Joshua Haberman

It disturbes me to see an email with a message that if elected, he will dedicate his efforts to the benefit of one particular group. It's certainly the intention of the message regardless of what Lisbon says.


This man is a little sick in the head it seems. He was placed on the Planning &Zoning Board by Mr. Koppleman who won a commission seat and served only one year, after he got his vote in to approve Young Isreal of Bal Harbor to be built in Surfside. Then when Koppleman left after he got what he wanted, Lisbon poped up to run for commissioner and in order to do this he had to resign being President of Young Isreal, who he voted in. Then he resigned after Young Isreal got what they wanted to run for State Representative, in order to help the Jews even more.
Someone should really look into all what has happened in Surfside's government affairs during this few years. Many things don't seem kosher in our government .

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