History made: Daniella Levine Cava becomes first woman Mayor elected to lead Miami-Dade County

Bovo_Levine Cava
Levine Cava defeated fellow County Commissioner Esteban “Steve” Bovo in the race.

Consider the glass ceiling in Miami-Dade cracked open. Daniella Levine Cava can now lay claim to being the first woman elected as Mayor of Miami-Dade County.

According to Tuesday’s unofficial results, Levine Cava led fellow County Commissioner Esteban “Steve” Bovo 54%-46%.

Though the race was technically nonpartisan, Levine Cava has long been heralded by progressives in the region and across the state. Bovo, meanwhile, looked to retain control for conservatives. Term-limited County Mayor Carlos Giménez is now running for Congress as a Republican, and Bovo secured plenty of support from Republicans statewide in an effort to succeed him.

The Florida Democratic Party congratulated Levine Cava on the win Tuesday.

“I am so thrilled that Daniella Levine Cava will be the next mayor of Miami,” FDP Chair Terrie Rizzo said. “Not only will she be the first female mayor of Miami Dade, but also she will be the innovative, compassionate leader this County needs. I can not wait to see the phenomenal work she does as Mayor to help uplift every member of this community.”

Bovo has served on the County Commission since 2011, when he won the District 13 seat. Levine Cava won a race for District 8 in 2014.

The two have sparred on the Commission over the years, battles that gave some insight into their governing philosophy.

In 2017, Mayor Giménez sought to end the county’s so-called “sanctuary” immigration policies. The move required jails to once again hold inmates per detention requests from federal immigration officials. Bovo was one of nine votes to support the move, while Levine Cava was one of three commissioners to oppose it.

Earlier this year, the Commission again tried to establish a civilian panel to review police activity following George Floyd‘s death at the hands of Minneapolis police. That proposal passed the Commission with Levine Cava supporting it and Bovo opposing. But Mayor Giménez vetoed the effort, citing concerns the panel’s jurisdiction would extend to elected officials and county employees.

As the candidates staked out those and other positions, Democrats largely flocked to Levine Cava while Republicans supported Bovo.

Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez endorsed Bovo in July. U.S. Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart, a Republican who serves part of Miami-Dade, also backed Bovo.

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, Florida’s highest-ranking elected Democrat, endorsed Levine Cava. And just over a week before Election Day, former Democratic presidential nominee and First Lady Hillary Clinton announced she would support Levine Cava as well.

“I congratulate Daniella Levine Cava on her historic victory tonight,” Miami-Dade Democratic Party Chair Steve Simeonidis said.

The voters of Miami-Dade County have declared they want an end to the corruption and self-dealing of the past, and they are ready for a new era of integrity and results with Daniella Levine Cava. I am thrilled to work together with our new mayor in the years ahead.”

Aliki Moncrief, executive director of Florida Conservation Voters, added a statement congratulating Levine Cava Tuesday.

“Daniella is a true environmental champion and water warrior. She will bring needed experience and leadership to take on the big challenges facing South Florida, like climate change and water quality,” Moncrief said.

“Daniella’s victory demonstrates the strong groundswell of support for bold climate action rising from the local level, and she’ll bring much-needed momentum to the fight for Florida’s clean energy future. FCV looks forward to working with Daniella in the coming months and years as we work together to build a more sustainable future for all people of Miami-Dade.”

Added Ruth’s List Florida Interim CEO Barbara Zdravecky, “Daniella, who has spent her career serving the South Florida community, will be the 21st century leader that Miami-Dade needs.”

The county leans Democratic, with Clinton topping President Donald Trump in Miami-Dade by around 30 points in 2016, though Democrats struggled in the county overall Tuesday.

Internal surveys from the Levine Cava campaign told a consistent story, routinely showing her with a double-digit lead over Bovo. Levine Cava delivered on those results.

Ryan Nicol

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to [email protected]



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