A new poll commissioned by the Melba Pearson campaign shows a statistical tie in the race for Miami-Dade County State Attorney a month out from the election.
Pearson is seeking to unseat Katherine Fernandez Rundle, who has served as State Attorney for the 11th Judicial Circuit for 27 years.
The survey, conducted by Independence Campaigns, shows Fernandez Rundle earning 39% of the vote to Pearson’s 38%. That’s well within the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 4.04 percentage points.
Independence Campaigns contacted 581 likely voters via text message from July 8-9. Another 23% of voters remain undecided, which is more than enough to swing the race in either direction.
Publicly-released internal campaign polls should be taken with a healthy dose of skepticism. Though their findings may be accurate, campaigns have an incentive to withhold internal polls with poor results and only release favorable polls to the public.
Pearson has mounted a feisty campaign in an effort to challenge Fernandez Rundle. At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, she pushed Fernandez Rundle to reform the county’s system for jailing individuals who cannot afford bail. Fernandez Rundle eventually agreed to release individuals being held for misdemeanor charges and nonviolent felonies.
The Miami-Dade Democratic Party Executive Committee has also pushed back against Fernandez Rundle’s record of never prosecuting a cop for an on-duty killing during her nearly three-decade tenure.
The executive committee is barred from endorsing anyone in the State Attorney contest. The group did, however, call for Fernandez Rundle to withdraw from the race.
Fernandez Rundle has defended her record, arguing Florida’s laws set a high barrier for prosecuting police and that her cohorts throughout the state have also been slow to file similar charges.
On Tuesday, the Pearson campaign also announced an endorsement from the Democratic Haitian American Caucus of Florida. That adds to recent endorsements from The Collective PAC, the Democratic Hispanic Caucus of Florida and the Florida LGBTQ+ Democratic Caucus.
While the 2020 general election is scheduled for Nov. 3, Pearson and Fernandez Rundle will face off on Aug. 18. Both are Democrats and no other candidates qualified for the contest, so the winner of the primary will be the county’s next State Attorney.