By a surprisingly slim margin, Miami-Dade voters have picked Carlos Gimenez to serve as the county's next mayor. Gimenez received just 51 percent of the vote in the special runoff election triggered by the recall of former mayor Carlos Alvarez. Opponent Julio Robaina has offered his concession.
Though it was a razor-thin victory, it's still an impressive feat for Gimenez. Robaina had emerged as the leader after the initial round of voting, besting Gimenez by a little less than 5 percent. However, neither got more than 50 percent triggering the runoff. Robaina had also far out-raised Gimenez in campaign contributions.
If there was one major complaint about Gimenez throughout the campaign it was that the guy, who has slowly worked his way up the ladder in Miami-Dade politics, was kind of a boring stiff and career bureaucrat. Considering more than 90 percent of the electorate just voted yes to removing the previous tenant of the mayor's office and seem to be sick of county hall turmoil, that may not have been such a bad thing.
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Meanwhile, the far more fiery Robaina failed to connect with many voters outside of his Hialeah stronghold. Allegations of shady private business dealings, back room deals, and a strange last-minute shift by coming out against even the most basic of rights for GLBT citizens (one of few major policy differences between the two platforms) haunted his campaign despite a near $700,000 advantage in campaign cash.
Gimenez, a former county commissioner, City of Miami manager, and City of Miami fire chief, will serve out the rest of Alvarez's term. The first round of voting for the next mayoral election is less that 14 months away in August 2012. So, yes Miami-Dade electorate, we know you just voted in three separate elections to kick out Alvarez and then replace him, but it's already time to start preparing for the next one. See you then.