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14 posts from August 26, 2014

August 26, 2014

Challenger declares victory in Miami-Dade commission race

@doug_hanks @PatriciaMazzei

Daniella Levine Cava claimed victory Tuesday night against incumbent Miami-Dade Commissioner Lynda Bell after a costly race that divided along partisan and ideological lines, and ended with the former charity executive posting a small but stubborn lead against the one-term commissioner.

With 93 percent of the precincts reporting, Levine Cava led Bell by 680 votes out of more than 17,000 cast. Bell, who scheduled no post-election celebration, offered no remarks, and she and her aides did not respond to repeated telephone calls.

Should Levine Cava’s lead hold, it would mark a rare defeat for an incumbent county commissioner and reset the voting balance on the 13-member commission, strengthening its progressive wing.

Shortly after 10:20 p.m., Levine Cava took the microphone at her Palmetto Bay election party and declared victory in her run for elected office.

“The results are clear, and my platform is clear,” she told the crowd of supporters. “After a good night sleep, I am ready to go.”

More here.

Tuesday's election brings new faces to the Florida House

South Florida voters on Tuesday opted to send two new faces to the Florida House of Representatives.

Bobby DuBose, a Fort Lauderdale city commissioner, won the contest to represent House District 94 in central Broward County. He edged out fellow Democrat Levoyd Williams, a city commissioner in Lauderdale Lakes.

With 56 of 63 precincts reporting, DuBose had won about two-thirds of the vote.

Because there were no other candidates in the race, there will be no November election. DuBose replaces the termed-out Rep. Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale.

Another fresh face likely to be Tallahassee bound: Broward County Commissioner Kristin Jacobs. Jacobs, a Pompano Beach resident and former Broward County mayor, easily defeated former state Rep. Steve Perman in the Democratic primary for House District 96.

Jacobs won 76 percent of the vote to Perman’s 24 percent.

Her only remaining opposition is write-in candidate Ronald Bray, a University of Miami graduate student who is not actively campaigning or raising money. No write-in candidate has ever been elected to the state legislature.

Read more here.

Broward School Board member appears to survive N-word controversy


Four Broward School Board incumbents appeared likely to hold onto their seats on Tuesday – including Ann Murray, who faced questions during the campaign over her past use of a racial slur.

Seven years ago, Murray uttered the N-word while working as a supervisor in Broward’s school bus department. She was reprimanded, but the incident did not become public until several years later, and Tuesday marked Murray’s first attempt at re-election following the controversy.

Narrowly, it appeared Murray would survive a challenge from Felicia Brunson, the vice mayor of West Park. Brunson, who is black, had received the important endorsement of Broward’s teachers union.

Yet Murray prevailed. Neither candidate returned phone calls late Tuesday.

The N-word issue surfaced at times during the campaign, but voters on Tuesday repeatedly said they either didn’t know — or didn’t care — about it. Murray previously apologized for saying the word.

More here.

Carlos Curbelo wins Miami GOP congressional primary, will face Joe Garcia


Carlos Curbelo, a longtime political insider and former aide to a U.S. senator, won a decisive Republican primary victory Tuesday to run for Congress himself.

He received 47 percent of the vote in a field of five candidates that included a scandal-plagued former congressman vying for his old seat. Ex-U.S. Rep. David Rivera came in fourth place.

Curbelo, a Miami-Dade School Board member, now faces the far more difficult task of running against incumbent Joe Garcia, a Democrat who was elected two years ago to represent the swing 26th congressional district that extends from Westchester to Key West.

The closely watched race among Republicans and Democrats nationwide is considered a tossup. Republicans hope to flip it to their column come the Nov. 4 general election.

“I will work hard to honor your trust,” Curbelo told campaign supporters gathered Tuesday night at Killian Palms in Kendall. “I will serve with honor and integrity. We live in a community that needs new leaders.”

More here.

Miami-Dade property appraiser's race goes to runoff between former incumbent and state rep


Former Miami-Dade property appraiser Pedro J. Garcia is set to face state Rep. Eddy González in a Nov. 4 runoff for Miami-Dade Property Appraiser after they emerged as the top vote-getters in a crowded five-man field.

The race will be one of sharp contrasts: Garcia, 76, is a professional real estate appraiser with 38 years’ experience. He was the property appraiser from 2009-2012, then narrowly lost reelection.

González, 44, has no experience in real-estate appraisal: he serves as business development leader at CAC-Florida Medical Center. But the career politician, who faces term limits in the state Legislature, has fundraising power, organization and name recognition.

González has been chairman of the Miami-Dade delegation to the Legislature and a former Hialeah City Council member. He raised more than $270,000 for the campaign — more than all the other candidates combined. That included nearly $116,000 transferred from fundraising for a 2015 Hialeah City Council race he abandoned to pursue the property appraiser’s seat.

More here.

Two Miami-Dade judges lose reelection


Voters on Tuesday elected Miami assistant city attorney Veronica Diaz to the judicial bench while two of four incumbent judges lost their seats to upstart challengers and one may be headed to a run-off race.

Diaz, 36, easily defeated former Miami-Dade School Board Member Renier Diaz de la Portilla in what was the most hotly contested judicial race.

“The people of Miami-Dade realized they wanted someone with experience and who wasn’t a politician,” Diaz said late Tuesday. “All of the mud-slinging was very disgusting but at the end of the day, the voters chose correctly. I’m so looking forward to representing all of the citizens of Miami-Dade County.”

Meanwhile, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Fleur Lobree lost her second judicial election – this time to defense lawyer Mavel Ruiz. And County Judge Nuria Saenz, criticized because of her support from a big-spending auto insurance company, lost to personal injury attorney Victoria Ferrer.

More here.

Easy wins by 2 Miami-Dade School Board veterans


Miami-Dade County’s longest-serving school board members coasted to reelection on Tuesday, securing four more years at the helm of one of the nation’s largest school districts.

Perla Tabares Hantman and Marta Pérez easily beat challengers Duysevi Miyar, an English teacher at Hialeah-Miami Lakes High, and Lawrence Orihuela, an adjunct professor and retired teacher.

With no central issue driving the school board races and mostly civil campaigns, the incumbents relied on their records to sway voters.

More here.

Miami voters endorse SkyRise tower


Miami voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly endorsed SkyRise Miami, a swooping observation tower and tourist attraction proposed on a spit of land behind Bayside Marketplace.

The public supported the 1,000-foot tower — coupled with a long-term lease extension for Bayside’s operator — by a roughly two-to-one margin. The vote gives developer Jeff Berkowitz the green light to begin construction and triggers a $10 million upfront payment to the city of Miami.

At a campaign party held in a private room at the Hard Rock Cafe at Bayside, Berkowitz swished a glass of Grey Goose vodka on the rocks and declared victory upon the release of only early and absentee voting tallies, which favored the agreement by more than 70 percent.

“It’s a mandate,” he said. “Up, up and away.”

More here.

Primary marked by low turnout in South Florida

@glenngarvin @AndresViglucci

Without any marquee races to excite them, South Florida voters trickled in to the polls Tuesday in a primary election marked by a turnout that was light even by the low standards of off-year voting.

Though large numbers of voters and balky technology have turned some recent South Florida election days into marathons of endless, sweaty lines, Tuesday’s low turnout meant minimal problems at the polls. And zero waiting to vote.

Voters had their pick of booths at precincts across South Florida, where they were often outnumbered by poll workers, campaign volunteers and even, at times, candidates.

“Unfortunately, the turnout appears to be very low,” Democratic governor hopeful Nan Rich said during a lonely stop at North Miami’s Sunkist Grove Community Center. “I guess people are busy with their everyday lives.”

More here.

Charlie Crist crushes Nan Rich. But race against Rick Scott is far tougher


Florida Democrats made it official Tuesday: They want a former Republican governor to beat the current Republican governor.

Heading into Tuesday’s primary election, Charlie Crist’s win over longtime Democrat Nan Rich was never in doubt. Only the size of his double-digit win — about 50 percentage points — was in question.

The general election pitting Crist against Gov. Rick Scott is far less certain. It’s close to a tie race. And it’s brutal.

Amid his cakewalk of a primary, Crist has had to deal with the bitter reality of Scott’s multi-million campaign juggernaut, which has spent nearly $28 million since November, trashing the Democrat on the airwaves from the moment he officially entered the race.

Crist thanked Rich in his acceptance speech and assailed Scott for everything from immigration policy to voting rights to abortion opposition.

The only time my opponent isn’t looking out for the special interests is when he’s looking out for those who share his extreme out-of-touch tea-party ideology,” said Crist, pledging that “in 70 days, we want to make Florida Scott-free.”

Earlier, at a campaign stop in Tampa, Scott contrasted the jobs gained during his term with the jobs lost when Crist was governor during the Great Recession.

“Charlie gives great speeches. He’s really good at it. But there’s no action. He lost 832,000 jobs,” said Scott, who faced token Republican opposition from utter unknowns Yinka Abosede Adeshina and Elizabeth Cuevas-Neunder.He defeated them with 88 percent of the vote.

More here