After nearly $12 million flooded the Miami-Dade mayoral contest, County Commissioners Esteban “Steve” Bovo and Daniella Levine Cava will advance to a Nov. 3 runoff to decide who will next lead the county.
The pair topped the seven-person field, which also included write-in candidate Carlos Antonio De Armas, entrepreneur Monique Nicole Barley, County Commissioner Xavier Suarez, real estate agent Ludmilla Domond and former County Mayor Alex Penelas.
According to Tuesday’s unofficial results, Bovo had 29.3% of the vote, with Levine Cava receiving 28.8% and Penelas sitting at 24.5%. Suarez placed fourth with 11% followed by Barley at 5%, Domond at 1% and De Armas with just a fraction of the vote.
“I am proud and humbled to have earned one of the top spots on the ballot in the General Election,” Levine Cava said Tuesday night.
One of those candidates could have clinched the contest Tuesday by securing a majority of the vote, but that was near impossible in such a jam-packed field.
Penelas was the biggest spender in the contest, dumping nearly $4.7 million into the race between his campaign and political committee. Tuesday’s results are a huge disappointment for his free-spending campaign.
Penelas conceded late Tuesday.
“First and foremost, I would like to thank my team, all the volunteers and supporters, and most of all my wife and my family for being with me on this journey for the past year and a half,” Penelas said.
“Although I am very disappointed that our campaign ends tonight and we will not move forward into the runoff, I am grateful for how we helped shape the debate of the Mayor’s race by drawing attention to our biggest challenges and proposing ideas on how to address them in a meaningful way. Those ideas have taken on a life of their own.”
Late-released campaign polls showed varying results for Tuesday’s election, though they appeared to tell a consistent tale that Bovo, Levine Cava and Penelas would be the top three finishers in some order.
That held true Tuesday, though Penelas’ poll showed he was favored to advance. Miami-Dade County voters chose otherwise.
Levine Cava is seeking to become the county’s first elected female Mayor and tried to position herself as a progressive option in the field. She was supported by the Florida chapter of the Service Employees International Union, one the state’s largest unions.
Bovo ran as one of the more conservative candidates in the non-partisan contest, garnering endorsements from Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez and future House Speaker Daniel Perez.
Suarez was seen as the fourth major contender, while the remaining three candidates failed to make much of a mark in the contest
Current County Mayor Carlos Giménez is term-limited and is now running for a congressional seat.