Five Races Worth Watching in Florida's August Primary Election

Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Photo by Giulio Sciorio

Today marks the statewide election primary, which means a slew of high-profile federal and local races across South Florida end today. Thankfully, by around 10 p.m. tonight, South Florida will likely be done hearing about Alan Grayson's cowboy boots (and domestic violence accusations), Andrew Korge's attempted non-bribery of his opponent, and accusations that Debbie Wasserman Schultz rigged the 2016 election, secretly recorded the Watergate tapes, and personally faked the moon landing. It's been an ugly primary season.

For the most part, most of today's statewide primary races look like formalities — the front-runners like Marco Rubio and U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy are expected to win in landslides. The only race that might come down to the wire is the fight for County Mayor, between incumbent Mayor Carlos Gimenez and upstart challenger Raquel Regalado.

As the results start to come in around 8 p.m., we'll be posting live updates online. In the meantime, here's a primer on the races to watch:

Five Races Worth Watching in Florida's August Primary Election (2)
Miami-Dade County Office of the Mayor

The Race for County Mayor

Riding a wave of name-recognition and developer-funded campaign cash, Gimenez is expected to win the Republican nomination for county mayor today and sink Regalado for good. In May, the Miami Herald said Gimenez had a 12-point lead over his rival. (A follow-up poll the Gimenez campaign released said he was set to crush Regalado, but of course it did — it was his own poll.)

But of all the contests, this appears to be the one most primed for an upset. Regalado — a former school board member, radio host, and the daughter of City of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado — has run a scorched-earth campaign, where she's blamed virtually all of the county's ills on Gimenez, no matter what the facts actually say. Regalado herself is a compelling character, with significantly better stage presence and public-speaking acumen than Gimenez, who is roughly as exciting as tapioca pudding.

As is standard for county races, both candidates have been hamstrung by scandals this year. Gimenez has been accused of trying to duck the law and avoid reforming the city's campaign-finance laws, while Regalado was caught getting a property-tax break on a house she didn't actually live in, despite sitting on the board that was supposed to police those tax breaks.

But say what you want about the rest of the races today — this is the one that will actually impact Miami-Dade residents the most. Especially since the county sure hates electing Democrats to this job.

Tim Canova stands in front of an American flag in his downtown Hollywood office.
Tim Canova stands in front of an American flag in his downtown Hollywood office.
Photo by Jerry Iannelli

The Debbie Wasserman Schultz Scapegoat-a-Thon

In January, Tim Canova was an unknown law professor mounting a futile campaign to unseat one of the most entrenched Democrats in congress. By June, Canova was a progressive hero poised to slay a politician accused of rigging an entire presidential primary in favor of Hillary Clinton.

But today, Canova is losing big in the polls, like most analysts predicted. Despite her many, documented flaws, it appears Wasserman Schultz will hold onto her congressional seat, and Canova will go back to teaching law at Nova Southeastern University like everyone said he would.

Elsewhere, the Bernie Sanders acolytes propping him up can't seem to hold it together anymore. A group called Our Revolution had been formed to help get Sanders-style candidates elected around the country, but many of the "revolutionaries" quit en masse when Our Revolution hired Sanders' former campaign director Jeff Weaver. It looks to be a cold winter for the revolution.

Marco Rubio capitulated to Donald Trump last night and encouraged America to vote for him.
Marco Rubio capitulated to Donald Trump last night and encouraged America to vote for him.
Photo by Gage Skidmore via Flickr CC

Marco Rubio, Carlos Beruff, Patrick Murphy, and Alan Grayson run America's Weirdest Senate Primary

For a few glorious months, it seemed as if the nation was done dealing with Rubio, a man whose conscience appears to be run by a small spider from a Tim Burton claymation movie. In the vacuum Rubio left after dropping out of the presidential race and his own race for U.S. Senator, Carlos Beruff, a man mostly known for hating immigrants and earning the nickname the "Cuban-American Donald Trump" rose in his stead. For a split second, it seemed Beruff might win the Republican nomination. But then Rubio jumped back in the race despite swearing nearly every day that he was done with politics, and voters apparently still prefer Rubio.

On the Democratic side, U.S Rep. Patrick Murphy, a man who lied about his business credentials before CBS4 reporter Jim DeFede caught him in the act, is projected to win heavily against U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson. Grayson dresses like a clown's lawyer, is accused of beating his wife (a charge he denies), and was caught on tape shoving a Politico reporter mere weeks ago, while shouting at the reporter to stop shoving him.

As such, New York magazine called the race "the second-strangest campaign of the season."

Five Races Worth Watching in Florida's August Primary Election (5)
Florida House of Representatives/BasicGov via Flickr Creative Commons

The State Senate District 38 Flaming Tornado of Sadness

The only race that rivals the Rubo-Murphy Senate race in terms of weirdness might be the race for State Senate District 38. State Rep. Daphne Campbell, a woman with a long, documented history of corporate malfeasance, literally pretended New Times had called the wrong number after a reporter asked her why she'd had foreclosure proceedings brought against her at least 10 different times. Candidate Anis Blemur is accused of stealing tens of thousands of dollars from the former Haitian Ambassador to the United Nations. Former North Miami Mayor Kevin Burns had his own, documented financial issues, including allegedly refusing to pay employees at a Christmas tree farm he owned. One other candidate, Don Festge, is a schoolteacher, and another, lawyer Jason Pizzo, has not voted since 2008, according to the Miami Herald.

It appears former Miami Beach City Commissioner Michael Gongora may be the frontrunner, simply due to the fact that he's the only person on the ballot who has both government experience and a mostly scandal-free biography.

The race would have been a shoo-in for longtime State Senator Gwen Margolis. She, however, was forced to drop out after referring to her opponents as "three Haitians, some teacher, and some lawyer."

Sen. Dwight Bullard (left) says challenger Andrew Korge offered him $25,000 to switch districts. Prosecutors are now investigating that allegation.
Sen. Dwight Bullard (left) says challenger Andrew Korge offered him $25,000 to switch districts. Prosecutors are now investigating that allegation.
photos: screencap via Youtube/courtesy Andrew Korge

Andrew Korge and Dwight Bullard's Battle of the Non-Scandals

After Andrew Korge — the well-heeled son of famed Clinton fundraiser Chris Korge — announced he was running for State Senate District 40, which includes parts of Kendall, his opponent, Miami-Dade Democratic Party Chair Dwight Bullard, accused Korge of offering him a $25,000 bribe to drop out of the race and run elsewhere. It was a huge accusation, but didn't exactly seem out of place for a man whose parents kinda-sorta helped the Clintons buy the presidency.

But prosecutors looked into it and decided the whole thing was a non-scandal and dropped the case. 

Then Bullard also drew his own minor flack for wearing a kaffiyeh — a headscarf that signals support for Palestine — during a meeting with the Black Lives Matter-affiliated Dream Defenders group. It remains to be seen whether South Florida's heavily-Jewish voting bloc will punish him at the ballot box today.


Sponsor Content

Newsletters

All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories
    Send:

Newsletters

All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >