Ever since Barack Obama swept Miami-Dade County in 2008 and 2012, a theory has floated around that Hispanic voters here have evolved to the point that they no longer cast their ballots along ethnic lines. Katherine Fernandez Rundle is betting on the exact opposite as she seeks to continue her 27-year reign as Miami-Dade state attorney.
Rundle is running against her own putrid record and a formidable opponent, former prosecutor and ACLU Florida ex-deputy director Melba Pearson, in the August 18 election. All voters, including Republicans and independent voters, will get to cast ballots after no write-in candidate filed to run, which would have closed the primary to only Democrats.
As the first and only Cuban-American state attorney in Miami-Dade history, Rundle is expecting Hispanics, especially Cuban Republicans, to vote in a racist manner by picking her because of her last name. Despite Obama's inroads, non-Cuban candidates do not win races for countywide office in Miami-Dade. The last time an African-American came close to becoming mayor was in 1996 when the late Arthur Teele battled Alex Penelas in a runoff. Penelas won by carrying 90 percent of the Hispanic vote.
Rundle is used to Miami-Dade's majority voting for a corrupt Cuban over a more qualified, yet Black, candidate. If Rundle was running against another Cuban-American, she would have retired to avoid blemishing her undefeated election record. Any other entrenched top prosecutor engulfed in one scandal after another would have called it quits.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Miami New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Miami's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
In recent weeks, local media outlets have exposed Rundle's injustices and unethical conduct around the clock. The public was already weary of her inability to prosecute any cops who recklessly killed unarmed citizens when WLRN published a scathing report on how Rundle's office gave prominent defendants get-out-of-jail-free cards in exchange for four-, five-, and six-figure donations to her favored charities.
Recently, Miami filmmaker Billy Corben made a video that shows Rundle lied to me that no video footage existed of Miami-Dade police officers shooting an informant and a suspect in 2011. During a Facebook candidate's forum I hosted, Rundle said: "There is no video evidence for us to prosecute on the Redland case, OK?" Corben dug up old news footage showing Rundle watching the video she claimed didn't exist. It shows the cops killing the men like they were raiding Osama bin Laden's secret hideout.
Even Rundle's own party, the Miami-Dade Democrats, passed a resolution telling her to withdraw from the race. But it's going to be Cuban-American and other Hispanic voters who will be the difference. This is going to be a true test of whether a Black candidate can overcome Rundle's last name and ethnicity. We are going to find out what Miami-Dade really stands for when the polls close on August 18.
Follow Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1