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| Columns |

Politicians Line Up to Replace County Commissioners Audrey Edmonson, Dennis Moss, and Barbara Jordan Updated

Dennis Moss, Audrey Edmonson, and Barbara Jordan
Dennis Moss, Audrey Edmonson, and Barbara Jordan
Miami-Dade County
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Update: After publication, sources told me that Audrey Edmonson is planning to challenge Democratic Congresswoman Frederica Wilson. Commissioner Jean Monestime may run for mayor.

There's a major political shakeup brewing at County Hall. Miami-Dade Commissioners Audrey Edmonson, Barbara Jordan, and Dennis Moss are all termed out. A strong field of contenders to replace them is gearing up for a hardcore, messy, and rough campaign season in 2020.

There will be bruising battles from Homestead to Carol City. Factions could either start wars that unite the black community or tear it apart.

Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert III is considered the leading contender to replace Jordan in Northwest Miami-Dade. He not only won Jordan's endorsement but also has a proven track record bringing businesses and world-class events to one of the nation's most predominantly African-American cities. Gilbert could also be the ideal candidate for county mayor. He's brought jobs to the city, built a relationship with the Miami Dolphins that has spurred economic development, and hosted the music festivals Rolling Loud and Jazz in the Gardens. The problem is that Cubans and whites won't vote for a black candidate for county mayor.

His strongest potential opponent could be Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, who has hinted at a county commission run in press interviews. She's become a nationally known social justice activist. Meanwhile, state Sen. Oscar Braynon II is positioning himself as Gilbert's successor in Miami Gardens.

Down south, Democratic state Rep. Kionne McGhee and lawyer Marlon Hill will likely face off for Moss' seat. McGhee, the Florida House minority leader, recently faced criticism from House Democrats that he caved to the Republican legislative agenda.

In the central part of the county, Keon Hardemon will likely replace Edmonson, which will leave a vacancy on the Miami City Commission. Because Hardemon's city commission seat is not up until 2021, expect the city commission to appoint an interim replacement rather than hold a special election.

Political insider Billy Hardemon, Keon's uncle, will work very hard to persuade commissioners to select Christine King, executive director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Economic Development Corporation. The black community is rooting for Miami-Dade County Public Schools administrator and community activist Pierre Rutledge. And word on the street is that Edmonson has not ruled out running for the city commission seat in 2021.

Then there's the race for county mayor. County Commissioner Xavier Suarez and former Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas will likely run and split the black vote. Penelas will get half the African-American vote because he allowed his black friends to be the front minority contractors for the big Cuban corporations that won county contracts.

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