“We planned to make it to a runoff,” said Hardemon, who added that now he will target the 15 percent or so of voters who went Austin’s way. “That’s what I’m praying for.”
But Edmonson said she wasn’t surprised by the runoff, and still feels good about her chances in November.
“When you have six people in a race, you have a good possibility that there will be a runoff,” she said. She accused Hardemon of running a nasty campaign, and predicted she will win. “He cannot debate. He’s not that familiar with governmental issues in the county.”
In the third runoff, former two-term state Rep. Juan C. Zapata will square off against Miami-Dade police detective Manny Machado.
The grab for the District 11 seat had been expected to go to Zapata, 45, who has been campaigning for the post for three years. A straight-up victory, however, was denied by a respectable showing from Florida International University network engineer Javier Muñoz.
“It’s close, but we’ve just got to get it done in November,” Zapata said as supporters feasted on chicharrones, plaintains and steak. “I’m grateful to the voters. It will be good to be in first place for the general election.’’
Machado is a 37-year-old Miami-Dade police officer who took leave to run for office. His website says he is married with two children and has been an officer for 12 years.
Machado, who watched the results from home with his family, said he ran for office because he was tired of hearing the same broken promises from elected leaders. He said if he wins the runoff he will focus on “issues with the elderly, youth and drugs, and traffic.’’
“We did great. We worked hard and walked a lot,’’ he said.
One supporter, dog lover Shirley Mantilla, said Tuesday that she voted for Machado because he has helped educate the public about the pit bulls, a breed not permitted in Miami-Dade County for the past 23 years. Voters on Tuesday rejected a measure that would have removed the ban.
The three commission runoffs are rare. There haven’t been any in recent memory, though a few mayoral elections have gone to runoffs.
To avoid a runoff, candidates must win more than 50 percent of the vote.
In Miami’s District 1, Jordan, 69, survived the ugliest of the campaigns, parlaying a savaging of challenger Gibson by the gay rights advocacy group SAVE DADE and her considerable experience to a new four-year term.
She kept the heat on Gibson throughout the contest, declaring her opponent no more than a puppet of Braman’s. She fought off claims of being an ineffective bureaucrat by highlighting the growth of the district, which runs from Central Dade to the county line where it spreads east and west. She also made constant mention of her 37 years of experience working for the county, and how she was working with several task forces to stop the violence that is wracking north central Dade.
Gibson had hoped to transform voter discontent and Braman’s money into victory, a move that would have sent a sitting commissioner home for only the second time in the past 18 years. But the only mayor Miami Gardens has ever known couldn’t match her opponent’s fundraising skills. Also in that race was Wade Jones, a 38-year-old advertising consultant.