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Brener pulls out of public defender race in 20th circuit; Incumbent now running unopposed for new term

By Staff | Sep 25, 2008

Fort Myers attorney David A. Brener announced his withdrawal from the Nov. 4 election for public defender for the 20th Judicial Circuit in a document released from his law offices Wednesday.

Kathleen Smith, the incumbent public defender, will run unopposed in the general election. Smith was appointed public defender by Gov. Charlie Crist in February following the death of the previous public defender, Robert Jacobs.

Brener was running as a write-in candidate against Smith, who beat out Brian Boyle and Rex Darrow for the Republican spot with 58.16 percent of the votes in the Aug. 26 primary.

According to staff from the Lee County Elections Office, the line for write-in candidates will still be present because the ballots have already been sent to print. Any votes for Brener will not count.

“Technically,” the staffer said, “Kathy Smith has already won.”

Smith will win the spot in the November general election, but the victory will not be official until then.

The document from Brener states: “Since announcing my candidacy, I have been retained on five additional murder cases, and although I am limiting my practice to homicide and federal cases, it has become clear that I cannot possibly campaign for the position of public defender.

In addition,” the document continues, “it would be impossible to provide the quality of representation which my clients expect and deserve, and to resolve these cases before the beginning of the next year.

Brener said he hopes some of his campaign points, including increased training and pairing of assistant public defenders with assistant state attorneys among others, will be utilized by Smith.

I hereby withdraw as a candidate for public defender of the Twentieth Judicial Circuit, and congratulate the Honorable Kathy Smith for her victory,” Brener wrote.

Smith could not be immediately reached by telephone for comment Wednesday.