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Runoffs abound in Miami-Dade County Commission contests

Seven Commission seats were up for grabs Tuesday night.

Seven seats on the Miami-Dade County Commission were up for election Tuesday night, bringing a collection of candidates with disparate backgrounds and widely varying levels of fundraising support.

Florida Politics is posting separate recaps on the Districts 1, 9 and 11 seats. Below is a recap of the four remaining contests.

District 3

Six candidates vied for the District 3 seat vacated by term-limited Commissioner Audrey Edmonson.

Miami City Council member Keon Hardemon just missed the ability to avoid a runoff in the contest. According to Tuesday’s unofficial results, Hardemon received 49% of the vote, just shy of the majority he needed to secure the seat outright.

Sant La Haitian Neighborhood Center co-founder Gepsie Metellus sits in second with 21% of the vote, followed by community activist Tisa McGhee at 15%.

McGhee earned Edmonson’s endorsement, but she was not able to keep pace with Hardemon in the money game. She is a professor at Barry University.

Metellus joined the six-candidate race to replace Edmonson in March after previously launching an unsuccessful bid for the Miami-Dade County School Board.

None of the final three candidates — Brian Dennis, Eddie Lewis and Monester Lee-Kinsler — were competitive. Dennis earned 7% support, followed by Lewis at 6% and Kinsler at 2%.

District 3 contains the Village of El Portal, the Village of Miami Shores and several Miami communities including Overtown, Liberty City and Little Haiti.

District 5

Commissioner Eileen Higgins and Renier Diaz de la Portilla are headed to a November runoff. Higgins earned 47% of the vote as compared to 39% for Diaz de la Portilla.

Miguel Soliman secured just 13%.

Diaz de la Portilla, who also has served on the Miami-Dade County School Board, entered the race in Miami and raised the most money, though Higgins courted plenty of cash as well.

The incumbent was endorsed by the Miami-Dade Democratic Party. Higgins recently succeeded in getting legislation approved to create financial relief for hotel workers and other employees who have been furloughed or lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

District 5 includes the cities of Miami and Miami Beach as well as communities like Little Havana and Flagler.

District 7

Another race, another runoff as former Pinecrest Mayor Cindy Lerner and former Miami-Dade Public Schools Board member Raquel Regalado both found a generous fundraising base in their race to replace Xavier Suarez in District 7.

The two will face off again in November. Lerner garnered 40% support to Regalado’s 37%.

The final two candidates in the district — Michael Rosenberg and Ralph Suarez — trailed steeply in fundraising and in the vote margin Tuesday. Rosenberg netted 14% of the vote with Suarez sitting at 10%.

Commissioner Suarez, who is term-limited, is running for Miami-Dade County Mayor.

Lerner, who led the funding race, recently received an endorsement from the Florida chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and from Safeguarding American Values for Everyone, a Miami-based organization that advocates for those in the LGBTQ community.

Lerner also earned support from a wide spectrum of Democratic leaders including U.S. Reps. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and Frederica Wilson and Sens. Annette Taddeo and Jose Javier Rodriguez.

District 7 covers Pinecrest as well as portions of Miami and Coral Gables.

District 13

This was a two-person race in District 13 to replace Esteban Bovo, who was term-limited and is one of seven candidates vying to be the next Miami-Dade County Mayor.

Former Sen. Rene Garcia, who was forced to bow out of the Senate in 2018 due to term limits, emerged as the dominant figure in this district. His rival, political newcomer Adrian Jesus Jimenez, didn’t put up much of a fight Tuesday. Garcia topped him 77%-23%.

The veteran legislator served four terms as a Representative before being elected to the Senate.

District 13 includes Hialeah, Miami Lakes, Palm Springs North and neighboring areas of unincorporated Miami-Dade.

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