A half-dozen Miami lawyers have made the cut for interviews with a state congressional nominating commission to be the next U.S. attorney in the Southern District of Florida.
But a notable seventh candidate did not submit an application to the House nominating commission: Palm Beach State Attorney Dave Aronberg.
In a letter to a handful of South Florida politicians, Aronberg said he was “honored by reports” that he was being considered for the U.S. Attorney’s position but he did not apply because of his “love” for his current job, which he has held since 2013.
Aronberg, a white Democrat who has been a high-profile commentator on MSNBC, CNN and other cable networks, also said that he believes “our current national climate calls for a history-making appointment of the first Black U.S. Attorney from Florida.”
The six Miami lawyers who are scheduled to be interviewed for the job by the House nominating commission are: Michael Hantman, Markenzy Lapointe, Matthew Dates, Jacqueline Arango, Andres Rivero and Jonathan Etra. Of those six, Dates and Lapointe are the only Black candidates and both are former federal prosecutors in South Florida.
Sen. Marco Rubio, the Miami Republican, has said through his office that he supports Lapointe, a Haitian-American lawyer who served in the Marine Corps.
Rubio, along with Florida’s other senator, Rick Scott, a Republican, has appointed a separate Florida nominating commission to recommend finalists for the U.S. attorney’s job, two federal judge openings and a U.S. Marshal vacancy in South Florida. Rubio’s office announced this week that it is accepting applications.
After Democrat Joe Biden defeated Republican President Donald Trump in November, South Florida Democrats in the House of Representative took the unprecedented step of creating their own nominating commission — a role traditionally controlled by the state’s two senators because the U.S. Senate has the sole power to confirm presidential nominations. South Florida congressional Democrats said the House commission wants a say in recommending candidates who reflect the state’s diversity.
Next week, the House commission appointed by U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and other South Florida Democrats, including input from Rubio, plans to start interviewing 17 candidates for two federal judge vacancies. The openings are the result of U.S. District Court Judges Federico Moreno and Ursula Ungaro assuming “senior status.” Ungaro plans to retire at the end of the month and join the Miami law firm Boies Schiller Flexner.
The 17 candidates selected for interviews by the House commission are: Sowmya Bharathi, Jacqueline Becerra, Tanya Brinkley, Bruce Brown, Michael Caruso, Miesha Darrough, Miguel de la O, Samantha Feuer, Tania Galloni, Ayana Harris, Shaniek Maynard, June C. McKinney, Lissette Reid, Cymonie Rowe, Williams Thomas, Lisa Walsh and Detra Shaw-Wilder.