Only one Collier County judgeship remains up for grabs Nov. 6, and both candidates are currently facing ethics complaints ahead of the runoff.
Incumbent for the Group 2 seat, Judge Eugene C. Turner, is accused of breaching required nonpartisanship by hiring a former local Democratic Party leader to aid in his campaign.
A citizen's complaint in mid-October to the Florida Judicial Qualifications Committee, the body that investigates misconduct allegations against Florida judges, alleged impropriety on Turner's part for hiring a former local heavyweight Democrat as an adviser.
The committee does not comment on or acknowledge receipt of complaints while the investigation is ongoing.
However, a copy of the document obtained by the Daily News shows complainant Michael Lissack raised questions over the participation of Chuck Mohlke, longtime head of the Collier County Democratic Executive Committee, in Turner's re-election campaign.
Mohlke resigned from the party position in 2008.
A review by the Daily News of campaign financial statements showed his consulting firm, Fraser & Mohlke Associates, was paid about $12,500 by the campaign.
Turner acknowledged he hired the firm to advise him, mainly during the primaries, which saw him pitted against challengers Jim McGarity and Sam Lopez.
Because no candidate won at least 50 percent of the vote, Turner and McGarity will face off Nov. 6.
Mohlke is currently a Democratic state committeeman and a member of the Democratic National Committee.
Although he is an active Democrat, Mohlke said his role in policy-making is nonexistent.
"Am I an executive officer who makes policy for the party locally or nationally? No, I am not," he said.
Turner said he chose to work with the firm because of Mohlke's "great in depth knowledge of the community."
"It certainly would be beneficial to take advantage (of that) ... whether they are Republican or Democrat or whatever," Turner said.
Judgeships are nonpartisan positions, and candidates are prohibited from public political affiliations.
Lissack based his complaint on two opinions by the Florida Supreme Court's Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee.
The committee opined, in 2008 and 2010 respectively, that judicial candidates could not hire an executive officer of a partisan political committee as a campaign manager or consultant, or have an officer of a partisan political party as a volunteer campaign manager.
The complaint against Turner followed one during the summer against McGarity, a former public defender who resigned from his position as general magistrate in Collier to run for the Group 2 seat
L.K. Wood filed a complaint in July with the Florida Bar alleging McGarity's campaign sent misleading information to absentee voters ahead of the primary elections in August.
Turner's challenger is accused of taking "information out of context" regarding Turner's participation in the Florida Deferred Retirement Option Program in 2008 by alleging the sitting judge "double dipped."
"Should we expect more from Judge Turner?" the complaint quoted the advertisement as saying.
Wood argued the ad "is clearly intended, beyond mere innuendo, to call into question Judge Turner's fitness for judicial office in an undignified manner, and misrepresents facts concerning Judge Turner's participation in DROP."
McGarity declined a Daily News request for comment, saying that according to Florida Bar rules, he was "prohibited from commenting on an unfounded complaint."
The complaints against both candidates remain under review by the respective investigatory bodies.