No surprises in Miami-Dade commission races as 3 hopefuls win

Two more district contests are headed to runoffs in November

Three Miami-Dade Commissioners were elected outright and two more seats will head to runoffs after almost 19% of the registered voters in the state’s most populous county cast ballots in Tuesday’s primary.

Doral Mayor J.C. Bermudez and State Rep. Anthony Rodriguez will join Commissioner Danielle Cohen Higgins, who was appointed last year to fill the seat vacated by Mayor Daniella Levine Cava. Cohen Higgins won her first election with almost 57% of the vote over two challengers, Hammocks activist Alicia Arellano (who got 20%) and healthcare hero Karen Baez Wallis (with 23% of the vote).

Now nobody in Palmetto Bay can complain that Cohen Higgins is not duly elected.

Meanwhile, there will be runoffs in two districts in November.

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The District 2 race had six hopefuls wanting to replace termed-out Jean Monestime, so it’s not surprising that the top vote-getter didn’t break 30%. The November choice is now between North Miami Mayor Philippe Bien-Aime, who got 26% of the vote, and social worker activist Marleine Bastien, founder and president of the Family Action Network Movement, with 24% of the vote.

The tiny margin looks way smaller when one considers that Bien-Aime raised a whopping $910,000 between his campaign account and his political action committee, Progressive Advocates for Change, which is almost four times as much as Bastien’s $235,663.

In District 6, to replace the termed-out Rebeca Sosa, the runoff race is — as Ladra predicted in early July — between Trump loyalist and Proud Boy affiliate Kevin Marino Cabrera, who got 43% of the vote on Tuesday, and Coral Gables Commissioner Jorge Fors, Jr., who came in second with 26%. Miami Springs Councilman Victor Vazquez got almost 18% and Dariel Fernandez got almost 13%.

Fors seemed to take comfort in the fact that 57% of the voters were against Cabrera. “Forty two percent doesn’t win elections,” he told reporters Tuesday night. “We are confident that between now and November, we will get the votes.”

Said Cabrera: “Like Donald Trump says, we’re not tired of winning yet.”

Read related: Jorge Fors vs Kevin Marino Cabrera = heated Miami-Dade commission race

In District 10, Rodriguez got more than 55% of the vote and will replace termed-out Commissioner Javier Souto. Libertarian Only Fans girl Martha Bueno, who served as chair of the Community Council Area 11, got almost 22%. No-chance candidates Susan Khoury got 16% and Julio Sanchez got 6%. While Democrats solidly outnumbered Republicans in absentee and early voting, GOP voters were the majority in the Westchester and West Kendall libraries, helping Tony.

Of course, so did the $2 million Rodriguez raised between his campaign account and his political action committee, A Bolder Florida, which both gave and got contributions from Cabrera’s PAC, Dade First. Bueno confronted Rodriguez at early voting last weekend with $200K of fake money on a paper plate, representing what he raised just in the last two weeks. Rodriguez bragged that he had raised even more than she had said and ran away from her. She posted the exchange on twitter.

A deeper analysis of the money in the races will come later this week.

Bueno, a Libertarian who ran as an NPA, raised almost $96,349 between her campaign account and her PAC, Bueno for Miami-Dade. She tweeted on Tuesday that voters had been turned away from polling places in D10. But the elections department “unequivocally” denied any problems arose, save for a few stray voters who hadn’t realized they were redistricted.

But nobody was turned away, said Deputy Elections Supervisor Suzy Trutie. “If anything, we always give someone a provisional ballot.”

Bermudez will replace termed-out Commission Chairman Jose “Pepe” Diaz in District 12, handily beating populist candidate Sophia Lacayo, a former Sweetwater commissioner — removed from office after she plead guilty to perjury when it was found she did not live in the city — who spent more than $1 million of her own money trying to win this seat.

Endorsed by both Levine Cava and former President Donald Trump, as well as every municipal mayor in the district, Bermudez was actually sweating it when he didn’t have to. He won handily with 66% to her 34%.

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“The victory isn’t only mine. It’s for those who believe in honesty and integrity,” Bermudez said Tuesday night, referring to the negative advertising and video that Lacayo had distributed.

There are likely going to be people apologizing to him on Wednesday.

A surge of voters on Election Day brought the turnout up to 19% from what was about 12% before Tuesday. According to the Elections Department, a total of 288,004 voters cast ballots in this primary. The vast majority, or 142,205 voted by mail, another 72,008 voted in person Tuesday and 50,500 voted during the early voting period.

For every four Republican voters, there were five Democrats. Almost 40,000 voters were NPAs.

You can bet that the campaign for the general started at 7:01 p.m. Tuesday after polling places closed. After all, absentee or mail out ballots are sent to voters in less than two months.