Miami mayoral candidate Francis Suarez said a state investigation into his campaign for unlawfully submitting absentee-ballot requests online did not make him consider dropping out of the high-profile race.
The probe ended Friday with his campaign manager and cousin Esteban "Steve" Suarez and operations manager Juan Pablo Baggini receiving probation after each was charged with a misdemeanor for violating Florida elections law.
Francis Suarez, a city commissioner, said in an interview with the Miami Herald/El Nuevo Herald on Friday that having his well-heeled campaign engulfed in an absentee-ballot scandal never forced him to think of leaving the race against incumbent Mayor Tomás Regalado.
"I am not planning on dropping out," he said. "I've run this race for the year. I've run it very hard."
Of dropping out, he added: "That's never been my intent."
Suarez said he and his volunteers, who have been meeting Saturday mornings to walk the city, have knocked on nearly 10,000 voters' doors since launching his effort in January.
The investigation by the Miami-Dade state attorney's office prompted him to bring on new legal counsel, Suarez said -- Ron Meyer and Jennifer Blohm, both well known Tallahassee elections attorneys -- to keep his campaign on the up-and-up.
"It is a big endeavor -- it's over a million-dollar operation," Suarez said of the campaign. "And I think it has to be run that way."
He acknowledged, however, that the investigation has created negative publicity for him a little more than two months before the Nov. 5 election. "One never gets involved in politics for negative things," Suarez said.
The charges against Suarez's campaign aides capped a rough several weeks for the candidate. His campaign drew criticism for poking at Regalado in a campaign ad mentioning an 18-year-old Tased to death on Miami Beach. And his commission office fired a receptionist after her tweets bashing constituents were made public.
As of Friday, Suarez had yet to sign a letter resigning from his commission seat. The resign-to-run deadline is Tuesday.
"We'll see if I get to Tuesday," he joked on Friday. Then, more seriously, he added: "My intention was always to resign on time."