TAMPA — Voters Tuesday decided to keep Chris Nash on the bench in Hillsborough's only race for a county court judge seat.
Nash topped his opponent, Norman Cannella Jr., the son of a prominent Tampa defense attorney, by a margin of 65 to 35 percent.
Nash, 43, was appointed to a judgeship last year by Gov. Rick Scott and was on the job only a few weeks when he learned of his high-profile challenger, who entered the race with considerably more name recognition. Cannella Jr., 46, is a former prosecutor who has been in private practice since 2001, but it is his father, Norman Cannella Sr., whose name carries great weight in the legal community.
Though judicial elections are nonpartisan, politics infused this race. Late in the summer, Cannella's campaign sent out a mailer attacking Nash for being a Scott appointee. "Does Rick Scott speak for YOU? the ad asked. "Political appointments to the bench mean one thing … Political paybacks."
In interviews, Nash, who specialized in business law before becoming a judge, dismissed the idea that he has political ties to Scott, whom he said he had never met before his appointment. He is close to Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam, whom he befriended in college.
Contact Anna M. Phillips at [email protected] or (813) 226-3354. Follow @annamphillips.