After unrest, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle survives primary challenge
State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.

Katherine Fernandez Rundle
Several local voices looked to replace Fernandez Rundle in a push for more significant criminal justice reform.

Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle will continue her 27-year tenure in that office, defeating Democratic challenger Melba Pearson on Tuesday.

According to Tuesday’s unofficial results, Fernandez Rundle won the race 61%-39%. She holds a more than 88,000-vote lead over Pearson.

Several local voices called for a changing of the guard amid widespread social justice protests that swept through the country.

The Miami Herald reported a group of protesters took up a spot outside Fernandez Rundle’s home on Aug. 11, and the Miami-Dade Democratic Party Executive Committee approved a resolution in early July calling for the veteran attorney to drop her reelection bid.

The bone of contention: As Miami-Dade State Attorney, Fernandez Rundle has never prosecuted a police officer for an on-duty killing since taking office in 1993.

Fernandez Rundle has said that Florida case law gives officers significant leeway in using deadly force, and she has argued a prosecutor shouldn’t be forced to bring a case that doesn’t have much chance of success.

Fernandez Rundle raised more than $640,000 for her reelection bid. That’s more than triple Pearson’s $213,000.

Pearson, the former deputy executive director of the ACLU of Florida, advocated in 2018 for the end of cash bail for low-level offenses and Fernandez Rundle adopted that policy in January. Pearson also advocated for reform in the face of COVID-19.

Pearson was an Assistant State Attorney in Miami-Dade County for 15 years before joining the ACLU.

The Miami Herald endorsed Fernandez Rundle, but it qualified its endorsement as one “with reservations.” Fernandez Rundle hadn’t faced an opponent since 2012.

Both candidates are Democrats and there isn’t a Republican in the race, meaning the Tuesday primary was open to all voters regardless of party affiliation.

Fernandez Rundle likely benefited from conservative support, particularly those sympathetic to law enforcement, in the contest against the more progressive Pearson.

Staff Reports


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