BY LAURA ISENSEE, PATRICIA MAZZEI and DAVID SMILEY, dsmiley@MiamiHerald.com
The Miami-Dade Supervisor of Elections continues to tally votes Tuesday night, but Julio Robaina has conceded victory to Gimenez, a former Miami-Dade County commissioner who has held a 51 to 49 percent lead throughout most the night thanks in large part to a substantial early voting edge.
With 90 percent of precincts reporting, Gimenez has tallied 101,865 votes to Robaina’s 97,490.
Robaina, at his campaign party at the Park Square in Doral, came to the stage in the lobby just before 9:30 p.m. and thanked his supporters and volunteers, many of whom looked devastated. The former Hialeah mayor said the few outstanding precincts weren’t enough to overcome the 4,000 vote gap between himself and Gimenez.
“We fell a little bit short,” he said as Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” played in the background.
"I just called Commissioner Gimenez and congratulated him on his win," Robaina said, to loud cries of "No!"
Make that Mayor Gimenez.
Gimenez has yet to give a victory speech at the DoubleTree Miami Mart Hotel near the Dolphin Expressway, but supporters began chanting “Gimenez! Gimenez!” after Robaina conceded.
Gimenez came in second to Robaina during last month’s primary election. But the former Miami fire chief and city manager turned county commissioner rode a coalition of support buoyed by early voter turnout to victory.
While Robaina relied heavily on a stronghold in western Miami-Dade County - about one of every five of his votes came from Hialeah and Hialeah Gardens - Gimenez was supported by a broad base.
Still, only about 200,000 voters cast ballots in the election, equal to less than 17 percent of Miami-Dade County’s 1.2 million voters.
Gimenez held a lead throughout most the night after polls closed at 7 p.m.
Robaina won about 1,000 more absentee ballots than Gimenez, but the victor trumped that with a 5,000 vote advantage among early voters.
The difference among Tuesday’s voters was negligible, with Gimenez holding an advantage of less than 300 votes.
Robaina did not stick around to speak with reporters after conceding victory, but said "Dade County deserves to have -- and the people in this community deserve to have -- better government.”
In the other election held Tuesday, Sue Ellen Loyzelle holds a 200-vote lead over opponent Chuck Barrentine in the race for the Cutler Bay Village Council Seat 2. One precinct has yet to report.
Jose Oliva faced no opponent in the election for the Florida State House district 110.
Miami Herald staff writer Kenny Malone contributed to this report.