The showdown is set: A federal judge could decide on Thursday whether more than 700,000 voters are allowed to vote in the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s August election that will effectively decide who is the county’s top law enforcement officer.
Longtime State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle will square off against fellow Democrat Rod Vereen on Aug. 14, a race that would have been open to all voters because no Republicans or independents filed to run.
But just before the April filing deadline, two write-in candidates, Michele Samaroo and T. Omar Malone, filed to run. Neither will appear on the ballot.
Under a controversial and much-criticized state elections opinion, their entry served to close the primary race to just 525,890 Miami-Dade Democratic voters, making Aug. 14 the defacto winner-take-all race.
Enter independent Vincent J. Mazzilli, a former Drug Enforcement Administration’s Miami special agent in charge, and Republican Armando Lacasa, a former Miami commissioner.
They filed a lawsuit last month against Miami-Dade’s elections supervisor, saying the “gimmick” candidates have disenfranchised them from the right to vote for the important post.
Thursday’s hearing is before U.S. District Judge William J. Zloch at the federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale.