Port St. Lucie police investigating report of disturbance between county judicial candidates

PORT ST. LUCIE — Police officers are investigating an altercation during early voting Friday between two candidates facing each other in Tuesday’s primary election in a heated St. Lucie County judge’s race.

Officers responded about 11:30 a.m. to a report of a disturbance between incumbent Judge Philip J. Yacucci Jr. and lawyer Stephen Smith 100 feet away from an early voting polling place at the Port St. Lucie Community Center at 2195 S.E. Airoso Blvd., said police spokesman Sgt. Frank Sabol.

No injuries were reported, and Sabol declined to release any more information Saturday, saying officers continued to investigate the incident and talk to witnesses.

Smith said Yacucci’s wife, Maria, was questioning whether Smith was campaigning 100 feet away from the polling place as required by state law. Smith alleged Yacucci came over and started pushing Smith, screaming threats and calling Smith names.

“I’m in total shock at this point,” Smith said. “At no point did I approach him.”

Yacucci said Smith was lying because the fight was “just eyeball to eyeball” and never turned physical. Yacucci alleged Smith has been making inappropriate comments to Yacucci’s wife during early voting on weekdays while Yacucci has been in court.

“All I did was get in his face and warn him clearly never to go near my wife again and to stop his nonsense,” Yacucci said.

St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections Gertrude Walker said, in the 34 years she’s been in her position, she can’t recall an incident involving candidates getting into an altercation outside a polling place, especially not during early voting.

Also on Friday, the 4th District Court of Appeal issued an order reversing the injunction granted to Yacucci earlier this month against Concerned Citizens for Judicial Fairness Inc., the electioneering communications organization behind the website, www.thetruthaboutyacucci.com, that appears to support Smith.

An opinion explaining the decision is expected to follow

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