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Bullard swamps Saunders with strong showing in Miami Dade

The second time was not the charm for Ron Saunders.

The veteran state representative and outgoing Democratic House leader cut his tenure short in the state House to take a long-shot chance to become the first senator from the Keys in 40 years and seek the state Senate seat he had sought eight years ago. He lost, again.

Dwight Bullard, the son of the outgoing Sen. Larcenia Bullard, used the strength of his family name and the heft of his vote-rich Miami district to defeat Saunders. Bullard's strength was in Miami Dade County, where he and his parents have served in the state Legislature for 20 years.

The district, one third of which is African American, is dominated by voters in Miami Dade even though it sprawls from Monroe and into Collier and Hendry Counties.

Saunders, who won 88 percent of the vote in his Monroe County home base, simply couldn't compete in Miami Dade. By the final count, he collected only 11 percent of the Miami Dade votes while Bullard won 46 percent. Bullard's numbers would have likely been even higher had former state Rep. James Bush III not come out of retirement and run for the seat, splintering much of the black vote and getting 36 percent of the Miami Dade total.