September 01, 2016

Miami-Dade increases early voting hours for November election

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@PatriciaMazzei

Miami-Dade County will offer the maximum number of allowed early-voting hours ahead of the Nov. 8 general election, the elections department announced Thursday.

Early-voting sites will open for 12 hours a day — from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. — for a full two weeks, from Monday, Oct. 24, through Sunday, Nov. 6.

That’s 168 hours total — 56 more hours than the 112 hours offered leading to Tuesday’s primary election. Ahead of the primary, Miami-Dade also set two weeks of early voting, but sites were open for eight hours a day.

The increase is “commensurate” with a presidential election that draw more voters to the polls than any other election, the Miami-Dade elections department said in a statement.

“Our voters will access more sites than ever before, as well as the maximum number of days and hours of operation to ensure our voters are afforded every opportunity to vote early,” Elections Supervisor Christina White said.

Photo credit: Gaston De Cardenas, Miami Herald

Mike Fernandez makes it official: He's for Clinton

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@PatriciaMazzei

Miami billionaire Republican Mike Fernandez formally endorsed Democrat Hillary Clinton for president Thursday, as he promised to do last year if Donald Trump became the GOP nominee.

Fernandez questioned Trump’s qualifications, calling him “abysmally unfit candidate” who “has unleashed racist and violent acts.”

“No longer can we seek solace in wishful thinking or the illusion that this is just an election cycle and that by divine intervention all will be better after we vote,” Fernandez wrote in a Miami Herald op-ed published Thursday. “There is no basis in thinking that our democracy is so strong, our checks and balances so finely hedged, that no single person can lead us off the precipice. Trump can.”

Fernandez, a top Jeb Bush donor, told the Herald in December he intended to vote for Clinton if — as he expected —Trump secured the nomination.

“As a Republican who has contributed millions of dollars to the party’s causes, I ask: Why has our party not sought a psychological evaluation of its nominee?” Fernandez wrote in the op-ed.

The healthcare executive has long been an outspoken Trump critic, repeatedly buying ads in the Herald and other local newspapers across the country to blast the New York developer. The most recent ad, in July, portrayed Trump as a poisonous scorpion.

More here.

Photo credit: Peter Andrew Bosch, Miami Herald staff

August 31, 2016

Bill Clinton returns to Miami next week for fundraising

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@PatriciaMazzei

Bill Clinton will be hitting up Miami donors again after Labor Day weekend.

The former president is scheduled to attend an evening event on Sept. 7 to benefit Hillary Clinton's campaign. The rumored location is the Fillmore Miami Beach.

Donors who contribute at the highest level -- by cutting a $10,000 check or raising $27,000 -- get "premium" seating and a photo with Bill Clinton, according to an invitation obtained by the Miami Herald. The minimum requested contribution is $250, with a limited number of tickets for young professionals available for $45 each.

Clinton is slated to later attend a high-dollar dinner -- $50,000 a plate -- at the home of Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine.

Clinton fundraised in Florida on his wife's behalf in April, and in Miami in February.

Photo credit: Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS

DCCC praises Scott Fuhrman, who'll challenge Ros-Lehtinen in November

@PatriciaMazzei

Political newcomer Scott Fuhrman easily won the Democratic primary Tuesday in Florida's 27th congressional district, winning him the chance to challenge longtime Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who also cruised to victory.

Fuhrman received 59 percent of the vote over Frank Perez's 24 percent and Adam Sackrin's 17 percent. Neither Perez nor Sackrin campaigned much, while Fuhrman, who is personally wealthy, mailed plenty of fliers to reliable primary voters.

"The results from yesterday's primary victory made clear that Democrats are united in taking back the House seat by seat," Fuhrman said in a statement Wednesday. "I am dedicated to standing up to special interests like the NRA on behalf of the families torn by gun violence in our district and around the country. I'm the only candidate to sign Bullsugar's pledge to protect the environment from the dumping by Big Sugar, and I stood for Miami families terrified by Zika after Congress failed to act."

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which didn't actively recruit Fuhrman or anyone else to go up against the popular Ros-Lehtinen, praised his win.

"Fuhrman's efforts to hold Republicans accountable for their failure to provide funding to combat the growing Zika epidemic is a clear example that he is willing to fight for South Florida's priorities," DCCC spokesman Jermaine House said in a statement.

Hillary Clinton campaign to open office in Miami's Little Haiti

CLintonMiamiHerald

Hillary Clinton's campaign will open an office in Miami's Little Haiti Saturday.

The office will be at 5905 NE Second Ave. Clinton will not attend the event which is scheduled for 2-5 p.m.

The Clinton campaign has opened multiple offices in South Florida including Wynwood and Fort Lauderdale. South Florida's large contingent of Democratic voters is a crucial campaign battleground for Clinton.

 

 

August 30, 2016

The race David Rivera lost

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@PatriciaMazzei

Embattled former U.S. Rep. David Rivera won the Republican primary for Florida House District 118 in a squeaker on Tuesday. But he lost his other race on the ballot.

Rivera was running for state committeeman in the Miami-Dade County Republican Party. He came in second to County Commissioner Bruno Barreiro. State Rep. Manny Diaz of Hialeah came in third.

Barreiro got 25 percent of the vote, compared to Rivera's 18 percent. Only 207 votes separated Rivera and Diaz.

That's a bigger margin than what won Rivera the House primary. He defeated political rookie Anthony Rodriguez by a mere 174 votes.

Longtime Miami-Dade GOP state committeewoman Liliana Ros easily won reelection.

That time a Florida legislative race was decide by a single vote

We've dug up a gem from the Miami News archives, first published on Oct. 7, 1988, by Heather Dewar, under the headline, "'One vote counts,' Valdes says after winning House tally":

It took four ballot counts over three days to pick a winner in the state House District 112 Republican runoff, and that made Carlos Valdes' margin of victory seem appropriate. He won by a single vote.

That "gives a clear message to voters that one vote does count, " Valdes said yesterday after an unusual hand count of the ballots gave him the nomination by 2,062 votes to Miguel DeGrandy's 2,061.

DeGrandy held a nine-vote lead election night. That was transformed Wednesday into a tie after a tally of the absentee ballots, and then a two-vote loss by a computer recount later that day. Yesterday's special hand count settled the matter, and DeGrandy said he will drop his court challenge to the vote tally.

"I am absolutely satisfied, " DeGrandy said after the final tally restored the one vote DeGrandy lost in the computer recount. DeGrandy promised to back Valdes in the November general election against Democrat Manuel Arques.

Yesterday's hand count was authorized by Dade's three- member election canvassing board after DeGrandy filed a protest with the board and a motion in Dade Circuit Court. DeGrandy objected to the results of the computerized recount, in which he lost one vote and Valdes gained one.

Elections Department Director David Leahy said the variation in results probably was caused by a tiny chip of paper still clinging to one of the ballots.

Leahy said that because of the nature of the computer system, such errors could occur in any election, but "for Dade County there's no better system available yet."

August 29, 2016

Rubio sounds like he's itching for the general election

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@PatriciaMazzei

On Monday night, Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera tried to keep the Republican faithful focused on the primaries at stake in Tuesday's state election.

"We can't take anything for granted," he implored to volunteers gathered at the Republican Party of Florida's Miami field office.

But for the activists assembled, one race was a foregone conclusion.

"I feel really good about it," U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio told one volunteer who gave him a hug and a kiss.

Rubio is expected to breeze through the primary against challenger Carlos Beruff. His likely Democratic opponent is U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter. And Rubio sounds like he's itching for the general election.

"He's incredibly unaccomplished," Rubio said of Murphy, dismissing him as "a guy who's done nothing in four years in Congress."

In another preview of Rubio's upcoming attacks, he characterized Murphy as the entitled son of a wealthy developer: "He's not going to have the U.S. Senate seat handed to him," Rubio said. He also accused Murphy of "never" mentioning issues of Latin America or Puerto Rico -- an obvious nod at Central Florida's pivotal Puerto Rican voters.

Rubio spent the last day of the primary campaign traveling to Cape Coral, Lynn Haven (near Panama City) and Pensacola, before wrapping up in Miami. Before dropping into the RPOF office -- which almost looked like a Rubio campaign office, given the overwhelming number of Rubio signs -- he gave a Spanish-language television interview in which he didn't even mention rival Beruff's name.

"There are three individuals who are running, and forgive me that I don't remember all the names now," Rubio said on América TeVé's "Ahora Con Oscar Haza." "One of them is a gentleman of Cuban origin. And they have all the right in the world to run. This is a free country. This seat doesn't belong to me."

What you need to know for Tuesday’s primary election

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@alextdaugherty and @doug_hanks

Planning to vote in Tuesday’s primary election? We’ve provided answers to a list of frequently asked questions.

Numerous races are on the ballot, notably the election for Miami-Dade County mayor, along with Republican and Democratic primaries for U.S. Senate. Various state legislative, school board, county commission and judicial seats are also up for grabs in Miami-Dade and Broward.

I’m not a registered Republican or Democrat. Should I bother to vote?

For some offices, like U.S. Senate and Congress, only registered members of a specific party may vote. But in Miami-Dade County, all registered voters can cast a ballot for mayor, school board, county commissioner and judge. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, a runoff election will be held in November for the top two finishers.

In Broward, independents can vote in non-partisan races, including contests for judge, state attorney and school board. Voters in both counties are also voting on a constitutional amendment about solar energy.

So is the mayor’s race in Miami-Dade ending Tuesday or not?

That depends. If one candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, the race ends. If not, the race heads for a November run-off on Election Day between the top two finishers.

That’s just for the mayor’s race?

No, that’s the rule for all non-partisan primaries, which is how most county-level and city-level races are decided. So school board races, judge races and other local posts could wind up on the November ballot if no winner is declared Tuesday.

What about the races for Miami-Dade County Commission?

Those three races would be eligible for a run-off, except each contest only has two candidates. A run-off is only a possibility with more than two candidates.

August 27, 2016

Kaine visits Miami Lakes event-production company

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@PatriciaMazzei

Democratic vice-presidential nominee Tim Kaine stopped by a Miami Lakes event-production company Saturday afternoon, in an effort to draw attention to Hillary Clinton's plans for small businesses.

Kaine toured Design South Florida, which is owned by the husband-and-wife team of Tangela and Harold Cummings. Cummings is a city of Miami police officer at night. During the day, he designs lighting and sound -- his wife deals with graphics and the web -- for the likes of former Miami Heat star Alonzo Mourning, the Miami Dolphins and rapper Flo Rida.

Earlier Saturday, the company had produced an event in Pembroke Pines where Kaine met with a group of local mayors.

"It's amazing. It's quite an honor," Tangela Cummings said. "Of course, without a doubt, we are Hillary supporters. We are Democrats by heart."

Inside the company's warehouse, Kaine stopped by various workstations. He seemed particularly intrigued by sound engineer Tony Morales, who told him he realized he was interested in the work when he went to a concert and was more interested in what was going on in the sound booth than on stage.

Also greeting Kaine were former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, whose family founded Miami Lakes, and his wife, Adele; U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson of Miami Gardens.