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In unusual move, commissioner switches endorsements in Miami Beach mayoral race

via @cveiga

Miami Beach Commissioner Jonah Wolfson’s endorsement of mayoral candidate Michael Góngora is so last week.

Friday evening, Wolfson sent out an email saying that he’d switched camps. He now supports political newcomer Philip Levine, a wealthy businessman.

“My commitment to Commissioner Gongora was mainly based on who the other option was, Commissioner Jerry Libbin, whom I consider to be unqualified to be our Mayor,” Wolfson wrote.

He added: “I realized my endorsement of Commissioner Gongora over Commissioner Libbin was the proverbial ‘lesser of two evils’ scenario.  So earlier today I personally met with him and told him that I rescind my endorsement of his candidacy.”

Wolfson wrote that he was pulling his support for Góngora over two main issues:

-- The convention center project: Miami Beach is moving toward a billion-dollar renovation of its outdated convention center, a project that also includes developing the surrounding district with residential units, retail and leisure programming. The project has been overshadowed by the arrest of Miami Beach’s former procurement director, whose job it was to oversee the project bids, on public corruption charges. The state attorney’s office has said that there was nothing illegal with the convention center bid process, but Wolfson wants to kill it, going so far as to create a political action committee to collect signatures for a ballot initiative that may make it hard for the project to get approval.

-- Term limits: At the April regular commission meeting, commissioners debated a contentious proposal to enact stricter term limits. The measure would have effectively shut-out current Mayor Matti Herrera Bower from running for office again. Wolfson supported the change, which Góngora and the majority of the commission voted against, instead choosing to send it to the city’s charter review committee.

Just two weeks ago, Góngora sent out an email thanking Wolfson and others for supporting to his campaign.

"I am humbled and honored to have Commissioner Wolfson's endorsement," Levine said in an email. "I am confident my candidacy and message will bring a majority of Miami Beach voters to join my campaign for Mayor."

Góngora did not immediately return calls for comment.