Locally, squabbles over write-in candidates are common.
In 2006, two 20-something women with no apparent political aspirations filed as write-ins in two separate races against incumbent Republican House representatives, Marcelo Llorente and J.C. Planas.
Because no Democrats were in the race, Llorente and Planas could have enjoyed support from independents and Democrats against their respective Republican rivals — until the write-ins filed.
At the time, Llorente and Planas blamed a rival Republican, David Rivera, now a U.S. Congressman. He denied the accusations. Rivera was investigated and ultimately not charged by Fernández Rundle’s office for his questionable financial dealings.
(A Miami Herald reporter saw Rivera handing out fliers announcing Vereen’s kick-off campaign press conference in May).
Planas, who is no longer in the House, said he believes the loophole should be closed.
“It’s a crime that Republicans and independents are not going to be able to vote in this race. I’m ticked off that I can’t vote in the State Attorney’s race,” said Planas, a former Miami-Dade prosecutor.
The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s race does not lack in drama.
Fernández Rundle has held the post of Miami-Dade’s top prosecutor since 1993, and did not draw opposition in 2008. In 2004, she won two hard-fought contests against Republican challenger Al Milián, who along with Miami-Dade’s police union is now supporting Vereen.
No Republicans or independents entered the race this year.
But for the first time, she has drawn a Democratic challenger. Vereen, a criminal defense lawyer who is African American, is banking on carrying most of the black Democratic vote, which in Miami-Dade totals 195,650, a sizeable chunk of 525,890 registered party members.
Traditionally, Fernández Rundle has drawn strong support from black voters, winning over 90 percent of the vote in 2000.
But she may face a backlash among black voters after her office’s failed prosecutions of Miami Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones, who represents the predominately black neighborhoods of Overtown, Liberty City and Little Haiti. Spence-Jones is actively supporting Vereen.
Had no write-ins filed, Fernández-Rundle and Vereen would have squared off in an open primary and she could have drawn support from Miami-Dade’s largely Hispanic Republicans and independents, from which she enjoys general support. Overall, Miami-Dade has 1.2 million voters.
Enter Samaroo, a Democrat, and Malone, a Republican, both African American lawyers.
Both have consistently refused to return e-mails or phone calls. Visits by a Miami Herald reporter to their respective condos proved unsuccessful.
Malone, 48, runs his own law firm. His website bio does not list any experience as a prosecutor, but notes nearly a decade as a Miami assistant federal public defender.
Samaroo, a Florida lawyer since 2001, says in her bio that she has worked extensively doing civil litigation, including cases involving people injured in auto accidents. She is also the past president of the Wilkie D. Ferguson, Jr. Bar Association, formerly the Black Lawyers Association, of which Malone is a member.
Samaroo worked with the Broward State Attorney’s Office between 2002 and 2005 and did not leave on a good terms.