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Miami-Dade state attorney's race draws two write-in candidates, ensuring only Democrats vote in race

Miami-Dade’s public defender and 44 county and circuit judges were elected or reelected Friday when no one filed to run against them.

And — a surprise: A third and fourth candidate jumped into the race for state attorney.

Friday’s deadline for qualifying provided plenty of intriguing storylines for the summer campaign season, the most notable the efforts to oust longtime Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle, a Democrat.

Earlier this week, fellow Democrat Rod Vereen, a Miami defense lawyer, filed to run against the state attorney, setting up a potential primary election — open to all voters, not just Democrats — on Aug. 14.

On Friday, lawyers Michele Samaroo and Omar Malone filed to run as “write-in” candidates, meaning their names won’t appear on the ballot. Their candidacies ensure the primary remains closed, and only Democrats can vote in the battle between Vereen and Fernández Rundle, who generally enjoys strong support among Miami-Dade’s largely Hispanic Republicans.

Vereen, who is black, is banking on carrying most of the black Democratic vote, which in Miami-Dade totals 195,650 of a registered 525,890 party members.

Fernández Rundle said Friday she believed the write-in candidates were dispatched by Vereen’s camp to keep voters away from the polls in August.

“I’ve always been inclusive,” Fernández Rundle said. “I think a lot of people are going to feel insulted that there is a plot to exclude voters.”

More from David Ovalle here.