The Miami-Dade mayor’s race, which had recently gotten a dose of intrigue over an absentee-ballot fraud investigation, ended without any mystery Tuesday night when Mayor Carlos Gimenez cruised to victory.
But his chief rival, County Commission Chairman Joe Martinez, wouldn’t give in.
Martinez refused to concede late Tuesday despite returns that showed Gimenez winning by nearly 25 percentage points, with all precincts reporting.
Gimenez, apparently awaiting a Martinez concession, delayed his appearance at a campaign rally, even though results showed he had won the election outright, without requiring a runoff. Gimenez won just over 54 percent of the vote, compared to Martinez’s 31 percent.
“I’m very honored to have been given this vote of confidence by the people of Miami-Dade County,” Gimenez said in an interview late Tuesday night.
Of Martinez’s refusal to concede, Gimenez said, “I think it’s up to him. I think this is a pretty resounding victory. I would hope that he would [concede] and we would move forward as a community.”
The nonpartisan race, the most prominent county contest, was overshadowed over the past two weeks by the voter-fraud probe that indirectly brushed Gimenez, the state attorney and a county commissioner. But the probe appeared to do little to hurt Gimenez at the polls.
Gimenez’s victory gives him a mandate to continue the philosophy he followed over the past year, in which he shrank the county budget, got commissioners to approve lowering the property-tax rate by 2 percent this year and nearly 12 percent last year, and reorganized the county bureaucracy, reducing the number of departments to 25 from 42.