This is the election of ringers, dirty tricks and vicious mailers with a touch of voter fraud.
Nasty is the new normal, said Dan Gelber, a former Democratic lawmaker from Miami Beach. Every election seems like its worse than the one before. This year, we have so many races, that it seems particularly awful.
From congressional to legislative to county races, candidates and shadowy political committees have dredged up divorce records, filed court complaints, propped up ringers to run against rivals, hurled charges of corruption or questioned opponents sexuality, national origin or addiction to pornography.
The specter of the so-called Causeway Cannibal was even invoked in one Spanish language radio spot. It stopped just short of accusing the countys mayor and a state representative of complicity in a widening fraud scandal centering on Hialeahs absentee-ballot brokers, known as boleteros.
I am the boletera of Carlos Giménez and Eddy González, and I am here to get your ballot, a sinister woman says in the radio spot after knocking on the door of an old lady. No evidence yet shows Giménez or González knew anything of the alleged crimes .
The ad was produced by the political committee called Citizens for a Reality Check, which Gonzalezs lawyer unsuccessfully sued. The force behind the committee, consultant Sasha Tirador, got her employee Maykal Balboa to run against the incumbent, who plans to file elections complaints against her and Balboa.
Voters seem to be responding to it all by voting. More than 123,000 early and absentee ballots have been cast so far. But turnout for primaries is historically low. In 2008, about 191,000 Miami-Dade voters just 16 percent of all registered voters cast ballots.
Much of the hardball politics will likely subside after the Tuesday primaries, which pit Democrats against Democrats and Republicans against Republicans before the parties nominees face each other in the general election.
Because candidates in primaries generally agree on policy, theyre all but forced to get personal and question the background of their opponents.
But the powder keg of this mean-season primary had even more explosive ingredients.
Every congressional and state legislative seat was redrawn following the once-a-decade census, making many incumbents less secure in the new districts. Some legislators wound up running against each other because the districts had to be drawn under new state Constitutional amendments banning gerrymandering. Other legislators were forced out of office due to state term limits, creating coveted open seats.
Also, Miami-Dades most-dynamic and feared Republican family, the three Diaz de la Portilla brothers, are all making a bid for legislative seats that could help determine the next speaker of the Florida House in 2019. Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla is unopposed.
Meantime, the Malaysian casino giant, Genting, is pumping huge sums of new cash into the elections machine as it tries to get legislative approval to offer Las Vegas style gambling in Miami. And billionaire car dealer Norman Braman is supporting a slate of candidates to knock off three county commissioners.
There are also two major countywide contests involving the reelection bids of Mayor Giménez and State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, whos embroiled in a bitter battle with the countys police union, the Dade Police Benevolent Association.