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Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez Soundly Wins Another Four Years

Al Diaz
Miami Herald
Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez declares a landslide re-election victory Tuesday night at the airport Doubletree Hotel.

After an unusually long race to determine who will be mayor of Miami-Dade County for the next four years, incumbent Carlos Gimenez was reelected by an almost 12-point margin Tuesday over his opponent Raquel Regalado.

With most precincts reporting, Gimenez secured 56 percent of the vote to Regalado’s 44 percent.

“It is up to us to create the foundation," Gimenez told supporters at his victory party at the airport Doubletree Hotel. "We will be known as one of the great cities of the United States by the end of this century. We have to make sure that we diversify our economy. We have to make sure that all segments of our community can participate in economic growth. And that’s going to be the focus of my next four years.”

Gimenez raised a remarkable $7 million for the runoff. He acknowledged to WLRN that better outreach to Miami-Dade’s myriad diverse constituencies helped propel him past the 50-percent mark this time.

“We had better social media," he said. "We had better communications, our messaging was crisper. There was a clear distinction between one candidate and another. I think that we just basically sharpened our tool box and did a better job of communicating.”

This is the first time in many years that an incumbent mayor was forced into a runoff election. In August’s primary, Miami-Dade County School Board Member Regalado received 32 percent of the vote to Gimenez’s 48 percent, just shy of the necessary 50 percent plus one vote needed to lock down a win and prevent the runoff.

Daughter of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado, Raquel Regalado conceded to Gimenez at Our Lady of Lebanon Catholic Church in Miami, where friends and family gathered and ate Cuban food.

“This was always  David versus Goliath; we always knew that,” said Regalado Tuesday evening.

In her concession speech, Regalado wished Gimenez the best and said she has no plans for the future other than to take her kids to Disney World.

At the end of October, with less than two weeks remaining before the election she filed a lawsuit against Gimenez asking the judge to kick him out of the race for submitting a check for the filing fee with the wrong date. The judge threw out that suit on Nov. 3.

The candidates raised roughly $9 million in campaign contributions, $7 million of that by Gimenez. The ability to raise such large sums and still be forced into a runoff was a talking point for the Regalado camp. She also equated his ability to raise such amounts as a sign of his close ties with lobbyists and county contractors who donated to his campaign.

Regalado had hoped to ride the coattails of a woman at the top of the ticket  to also make  history as the first women mayor of the county, though Regalado would not say for whom she would vote for president.

This will be the final four-year term Gimenez is allowed to serve consecutively as county mayor.

Tim Padgett is the Americas editor for Miami NPR affiliate WLRN, covering Latin America, the Caribbean and their key relationship with South Florida.