As Norman Braman walked out of the North Shore Branch Library -- fresh off casting his vote to recall Mayor Carlos Alvarez -- volunteers in yellow T-shirts greeted him like a hero. "This is the man!" exclaimed an older Hispanic woman shaking his hand. "What a beautiful man for leading this effort!"
Early voting traffic was steady at the library as Braman hopes the nearly 100,000 voters who signed a recall petition will come out to the polls. The billionaire will have to overcome a strong absentee ballot push by the mayor and the unions that still support him.
Braman spoke briefly to a horde of television cameras on his way out of the polls. He says the recall is the culmination of years of voter frustration at Alvarez's leadership.
"We've all been complaining about the quality of our government for a long time and now we finally have a chance to do something about it," Braman said.
Braman tapped widespread outrage at Alvarez's missteps during Miami's economic crisis, including backing a largely publicly financed Marlins Stadium deal and giving pay raises to police and top advisers, to garner more than 95,000 certified signatures backing the mayor's recall.
The question is how many of those people will actually show up to vote.
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Alvarez, meanwhile, is counting on his union support to survive the recall, the Miami Herald reports. As he cast a ballot against the recall yesterday, he told reporters that he stands by his financial decisions.
"Neither option was good, but I would recommend the same budget because it truly preserves the quality of life," he said.
The election could hinge on absentee ballots -- more than 30,000 have already been sent to the county. On Monday, by contrast, just 5,400 voters turned out to the polls.