Can you imagine a world where your political ally and fellow political schemer is the County Judge, where one of your closest political allies and a tenant in one of your offices is one of the three major judges in the area, where your father-in-law is in charge of the opposing political party and where his best friend is in charge of the county business in the area you live, and your nephew is in charge of one of the major judges? And you, well you are one of those three major judges. That is the world C.T. “Rusty” Hight envisioned after this election.
But the world according to Judge Hight was in trouble before the primaries were decided. His County Judge, fellow Democrat Phil Fitzgerald, thought he could coast through the Democratic primary because he knew there weren’t fifty Democrats who even knew his opponent. Hight didn’t figure on Fitzgerald losing in the primary, but Fitzgerald was beaten worse than any incumbent County Judge in the history of the county.
The next miscalculation was Michelle Merendino, Hight’s close ally and tenant who he encouraged to run as a Republican for the 253rd District Court so he could defeat Fitzgerald’s arch enemy (District Judge Chap Cain – the person who exposed Fitzgerald’s wrongdoing to the world). Republican voters overwhelmingly chose Judge Cain in an election that sent Merendino back to the space she rented from Hight to continue to practice law in Hight’s court.
Then Hight was blindsided when his father-in-law, the one he counted on helping him convince conservatives to be okay voting for a Democrat (even though Lester Wisgerber’s record shows he clearly has the philosophy of a liberal) was rejected by Republican voters in favor of someone most of the voters had never met or even heard of before this election.
After the primaries the world according to Hight was left with only two possible victories. And the nearly eighty year old best friend (Norman Brown) of Rusty Hight’s father-in-law was the weakest part of his plan to rule and reign in a world of his own making. But the other part of his plan is still intact and is the most important way for Hight to dominate the courts and have something even close to a world like he hoped for.
The stop gap measure for Hight is Zack Zbranek, Hight’s nephew. If Zack’s strategy works (to make political signs like his brother’s signs were years ago and to spend a lot of money on billboards and advertising and run on his family’s famous name among Democrats and Hight’s coattails) then Hight can dominate two of the three courts.
With Fitzgerald working closely with Democrat District Attorney Mike Little to get a grand jury to indict Judge Cain and to go after other Republican activists, at least the most important part of Hight’s dream world is possible. Or is it…? Would voters put two of the most ardent partisan cut throat Democrats on the benches of a courthouse that has been spirally down amidst scandal for years? That is what is left of Hight’s plan. The fact that they are allies of Barack Obama and nephew and uncle to each other should disqualify them for anyone tired of the Liberty good ole boy system.
This is a race of two Democrat judges who are related. They are running a campaign of quasi nepotism, a disturbing recipe for more corruption in Liberty County. The aroma emanating from these two people vying for a major slice of the judiciary in Liberty County has a vile stench; voters should be on high alert.