Miami-Dade County Commission seats are nonpartisan, but that’s hardly apparent in the bitter contest between incumbent Lynda Bell and challenger Daniella Levine Cava, which has likely become the most expensive commission race in county history.
One mailed advertisement displays Bell with Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican. Another shows Levine Cava posing with Miami Congressman Joe Garcia, a Democrat. Neither association is portrayed as a good thing: Both fliers are attack ads.
Levine Cava, a Democrat who calls herself progressive, blames Bell for voting against a gender-identity law. Bell, a self-described conservative Republican, counters that Levine Cava is in the pocket of labor unions.
There are nonpartisan jabs more typical of commission races, too. Bell, a Homestead resident for more than three decades, paints Levine Cava as a carpetbagger who moved to Palmetto Bay from Coral Gables late last year only to run for office. Levine Cava, a first-time candidate, argues Bell is part of a cozy County Hall where lucrative contracts go to generous campaign donors.
But it’s the strikingly negative political tone — and the hundreds of thousands of dollars raised by both women — that stand out in the race for District 8, which includes Palmetto Bay, Cutler Bay, Homestead and parts of Kendall and Redland. The election is Aug. 26.
The partisanship is largely by design. Florida and Miami-Dade Democrats recruited Levine Cava in an effort to get more involved in local politics and test their organization before 2016, when Republican Mayor Carlos Gimenez will be up for reelection.