Miami-Dade Commissioner Bruno Barreiro appears to have been pushed into an unexpected runoff early Wednesday morning after the county elections department finished counting absentee ballots that arrived on Election Day, which showed the incumbent missed winning an outright majority by 11 votes.
Late Tuesday night, it had appeared Barreiro had won reelection by a razor-thin nine votes over the majority needed to avoid a runoff. On Wednesday, an updated count showed Barreiro with 49.94 percent of the vote.
But the tally — and a runoff election — will not be certain until after the elections department counts provisional ballots — those cast by voters who didn’t have photo identification on Election Day. Provisional ballots are checked by the elections department’s canvassing board to see if the signatures match those in the department’s database.
“The only thing pending are the provisional ballots,” said Christina White, deputy supervisor of elections. “Those will be added once the canvassing board meets on Friday and determines which of them should be accepted.”
Barring any changes in the count, Barreiro, a 14-year incumbent, would head to a runoff against Luis Garcia, former fire chief and commissioner in Miami Beach and a former state representative, on Nov. 6. The election results will become final after the county’s elections canvassing board certifies the vote counts on all the races. The board meets at 9 a.m. on Friday.
“We heard the issue and we’re waiting for the canvassing board to get together,” Barreiro said Wednesday morning. “We’re looking into a possible recount, but I don’t have the specifics of how that works.”
Another commission incumbent, Audrey Edmonson was also forced into a rare runoff Tuesday. And filling the seat being vacated by Commission Chairman Joe Martinez — who lost his bid for the mayor’s post — will require a runoff as well.
With the exception of the Barreiro-Garcia runoff, the four-challenger slate supported by auto magnate Norman Braman was vanquished.
The billionaire, who successfully orchestrated the removal of County Mayor Carlos Alvarez last year, kept tabs on the results while vacationing in Europe aboard his 175-foot yacht, The Kisses.
“The whole effort of mine was to give the voters a choice,” Braman said. “It’s one of the few times the incumbents got a challenge.”
In the other commission races, incumbent Barbara Jordan bested challenger Shirley Gibson, and Dennis Moss easily won reelection.
Edmonson, who went from Eastern Airlines flight attendant to El Portal mayor before winning a commission seat in 2005, was pushed to the limit by challenger Keon Hardemon, a 29-year-old University of Miami law school graduate and public defender whose family is politically powerful in Liberty City.
With a strong showing in debates, a healthy bank account and no beef with Braman, Hardemon was able to push Braman-backed candidate Alison Austin aside. He will face off against Edmonson Nov. 6.
As a DJ played music and supporters nibbled ham and cheese sandwiches, Hardemon said the outcome was exactly what he had planned for. He said Edmonson has failed District 3 by trying to privatize troubled Jackson Memorial Hospital and voting for public financing of the Miami Marlins stadium.