Analysis: Cindy Lerner has ‘uphill but achievable path’ to unseat Miami-Dade Commission incumbent in Primary

Cindy Lerner CL
‘District 7 remains every bit as competitive (at) the start of 2024 as it was in the Fall of 2020.’

Four years after their first clash, former Pinecrest Mayor Cindy Lerner may be an even greater threat to incumbent Miami-Dade Commissioner Raquel Regalado when voters choose between them and a third candidate this August.

That’s according to MCI Maps’ Matt Isbell, who projects Lerner, a Democrat, will again give Regalado, a Republican, a serious run for her money this year — if Lerner keeps her campaign coffers well-stocked and distinguishes herself with a strong, progressive platform.

“District 7 remains every bit as competitive (at) the start of 2024 as it was in the Fall of 2020,” Isbell wrote in a Feb. 12 breakdown of the race.

“Negative registration trends that have plagued Democrats in other parts of the county and state do not appear to be at play in this district — perhaps owing to the older, wealthier, well-educated composition of the district. And new district boundaries put in place after 2022 actually add a net handful of Democratic-leaning voters to the district.”

Regalado, a former Miami-Dade School Board member, won her County Commission seat in November 2020 by 1,301 votes. The technically nonpartisan contest went to a runoff after neither Regalado nor Lerner, the two biggest vote-getters, secured more than half the votes cast in the August Primary necessary to win outright.

In October, Lerner launched a campaign to rematch Regalado.

Republican candidate Richard Praschnik, an appointed Community Council Zoning Appeals Board member, is also running.

The three-person race again creates the potential for a runoff, which generally benefits the incumbent.  But in the Primary, Isbell said, Regalado is “uniquely vulnerable.”

Democrats outnumber Republicans in the district by roughly 2,000 voters, while no-party voters top Democrats by roughly 1,000 voters. But in the Primary, “this relative parity becomes a substantial advantage to Democrats,” he wrote, noting that a far larger share of Democratic voters turned out to the polls during the District 7 Primaries in 2020 and 2022 compared to their GOP counterparts.

Lerner is the sole Democrat in the race now, which wasn’t the case in 2020. That year, Democrat Michael Rosenberg took 13.5% of the Primary vote. Lerner led with 39.7%, while Regalado took 36.6% but went on to win in the General with 50.6% of ballots cast in her favor.

Participation among Miami-Dade voters in this year’s Primary Election should be much higher than in years past. In addition to the quadrennial election for Mayor, which is nonpartisan, there will be partisan contests for Sheriff, Tax Collector and Supervisor of Elections on the ballot for the first time in more than half a century.

A partisan race for Clerk and seven of 13 Miami-Dade Commission seats are also up for grabs. But of those County Commission races, only the one for District 7 is “shaping up to be a real contest,” Isbell wrote.

“Without even delving into the current registration numbers and possible turnout scenarios, this seat is clearly competitive,” he wrote. “(And) a well-financed challenger, running on an identifiably Democratic platform, has an uphill but achievable path to defeat the incumbent outright in the August ’24 Primary; such a candidate is virtually guaranteed to get into a November runoff, (and) Cindy Lerner … certainly fits that profile.”

Regalado carries a far larger war chest. She had $719,000 going into New Year’s Day compared to $125,000 for Lerner and $8,300 for Praschnik, according to the candidates’ most recently available campaign finance reports.

District 7 covers Pinecrest, Key Biscayne, portions of Coral Gables, South Miami and Miami, including the neighborhoods of Coconut Grove and Virginia Key, and the unincorporated neighborhoods of Kendall and Sunset.

The Primary Election is on Aug. 20, followed by the General Election on Nov. 5.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.

One comment

  • Lidia Suarez

    February 25, 2024 at 8:13 am

    No more Democrats. Look what they are doing to this Country with their liberal Socialist ideologies.

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Sign up for Sunburn