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Miami-Dade mayoral candidate drops lawsuit challenging election over absentee ballots

Miami-Dade Commission Chairman Joe Martinez changed his mind Thursday, dropping a lawsuit he filed challenging the absentee ballots cast in the Aug. 14 mayoral race he lost to Carlos Gimenez.

"Although my intentions were to move forward with this lawsuit to preserve the integrity of the electoral process, certain legal impediments prevented me from continuing to pursue this endeavor," Martinez wrote in a brief statement.

The two-time chairman and 12-year representative of West Kendall said he would continue to work with the mayor and commission as an "engaged" citizen.

In his own statement, Gimenez said he was "pleased."

"I look forward to working with the new Commission on issues that will continue making Miami-Dade County a great place to live, work, and invest in," he said.

Martinez and Property Appraiser Pedro J. Garcia, who also lost, filed complaints after the election, seeking to throw out absentee ballots in light of an ongoing investigation in Hialeah that has netted two arrests for alleged fraud.

Had the more-than 80,000 absentee ballots not been counted, Garcia would have won his election over challenger Carlos Lopez-Cantera, and Martinez would be in a Nov. 6 runoff against Gimenez.

A hearing on Garcia’s pending suit is set for Oct. 19.

--CHARLES RABIN AND PATRICIA MAZZEI

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