A majority of August’s Miami-Dade County Commission contests were left undecided by the Primary Election results. That led to four County Commission runoff races appearing on Tuesday night’s General Election ballot.
The Aug. 18 contest required a candidate to garner more than 50% of the vote to secure the seat outright. With several Commission races featuring four or more candidates, that proved difficult. In contests where no one reached 50% support, the top two finishers advanced to a General Election runoff.
The races for District 3, 5, 7 and 9 will all be decided Tuesday night.
Of the four races up for grabs Tuesday, this one seems the least likely to produce any surprises. Miami City Council member Keon Hardemon is facing Sant La Haitian Neighborhood Center co-founder Gepsie Metellus.
In August, Hardemon earned 49% of the vote compared to 21% for Metellus. That put Hardemon just shy of the 50% + one vote threshold needed to take the seat in August.
With the race whittled down from six candidates to two, it’s likely Hardemon will finish the job Tuesday and win the seat. The winner will succeed County Commissioner Audrey Edmonson, who is term-limited.
This runoff features Commissioner Eileen Higgins defending her seat against Renier Diaz de la Portilla of the Diaz de la Portilla political family.
Higgins also came close in August to taking the seat outright, topping Diaz de la Portilla 47%-39% in a three-person contest. Diaz de la Portilla did outraise the incumbent though, $755,000 to $641,000. But both candidates raised plenty of cash and were among the top fundraisers of any County Commission candidates this cycle.
The Miami-Dade Democratic Party has endorsed the incumbent. Diaz de la Portilla has experience in county government, serving on the Miami-Dade County School Board.
Higgins’ district includes the cities of Miami and Miami Beach as well as communities like Little Havana and Flagler.
This could be the closest contest Tuesday. The race has former Pinecrest Mayor Cindy Lerner facing off against former Miami-Dade Public Schools Board member Raquel Regalado.
In August, Lerner garnered 40% support to Regalado’s 37% in a four-person contest. Depending on how the vote split shakes out Tuesday, either could conceivably take the seat.
Lerner did slightly lead in the money game, topping Regalado $456,000 to $429,000. The winner will replace term-limited Commissioner Xavier Suarez in District 7, which covers Pinecrest as well as portions of Miami and Coral Gables.
The final race features House Democratic Leader Kionne McGhee looking to secure a spot on the Commission against Homestead City Council member Elvis Maldonado.
The August race was a five-person contest. McGhee nabbed a spot in the runoff by earning 37% of the vote. Maldonado won 23%, just narrowly topping lawyer Marlon Hill for second place.
That likely signals McGhee has the advantage Tuesday. The money race shows the same, with McGhee outraising Maldonado. An early September survey had McGhee ahead as well.
Outgoing District 9 Commissioner Dennis Moss also endorsed McGhee.
McGhee is pursuing the seat after facing term limits following his eight years representing House District 117. District 9 significantly overlaps with McGhee’s House District.