With a fragile local economy, tumbling real estate prices, a heated debate over a baseball stadium, and bonkers budget issues, the race to replace term-limited Manny Diaz as Miami's mayor should have been a blockbuster.
Instead, with just a little more than a week to go till November 3's election, 42 percent of voters are undecided, according to a Florida International poll released this weekend.
Maybe many voters came to the same conclusion we did after attending a debate in September: that neither Tomas Regalado nor Joe Sanchez is all that impressive.
Or maybe, as community activist Alejandro Barrera pointed out to the Miami Herald, it's because it's a "very traditional, Miami-style" campaign. But in a city as rapidly changing as Miami, traditional politics might not cut it anymore. Perhaps the situation calls for something different.
Regalado leads with 42 percent to Sanchez's disappointing 18 percent. "Commissioner No," the city's longest-serving councilman and Spanish broadcasting veteran, gets most of his support from the Hispanic community: 52 percent of Hispanics, Cuban and non-Cuban, support Regalado. His voting base also skews somewhat older.
Sanchez possibly had a chance to rally the support of non-Hispanic whites and blacks but never went after those groups or, apparently, with much success. Regalado's campaign made limited attempts at making inroads in those communities. As a result, 50 percent of whites and 67 percent of blacks are undecided.
Of course, the other dynamic in the race was change. Not in that Barack Obama-trademarked sense of "hope and changery," but more change for change's sake. Regalado was Diaz's key foil on the commission, while Sanchez was seen more as a Diaz protégé. Not that Diaz is leaving office a necessarily unpopular man (he'll exit as one of Miami's more respectable recent mayors, which actually isn't saying much), but Miamians might be hungry for a fresh start.
In the end, Regalado's support in the Hispanic community and being an alternative to the current administration (even if that alternative often seemed to be simply "no") might not nab him more than 50 percent of possible voters, but it is enough to give him a 24-point lead.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.