Miami-Dade County

Miami-Dade’s Republican mayor: I am voting for Clinton

Mayor Carlos Gimenez debates Raquel Regalado for the Miami-Dade mayor's race live on Jim DeFede's "Facing South Florida" at WFOR's Channel 4 studios in Doral on Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016.
Mayor Carlos Gimenez debates Raquel Regalado for the Miami-Dade mayor's race live on Jim DeFede's "Facing South Florida" at WFOR's Channel 4 studios in Doral on Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016. mocner@miamiherald.com

Miami-Dade’s Republican mayor, Carlos Gimenez, said Sunday that he would vote for Hillary Clinton and that GOP nominee Donald Trump should step down as his party’s nominee.

“I’m not going to endorse anybody,” Gimenez told Jim DeFede on WFOR CBS4 during a mayoral debate with challenger Raquel Regalado, a Republican who said she is remaining neutral in the presidential race but won’t vote for Trump. “But between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, I’m not voting for Donald Trump. Obviously, I must be voting for Hillary Clinton.”

The algebraic announcement capped an extended drift toward Clinton by Gimenez, who during the mayoral primary declined to follow Regalado’s lead when she said she couldn’t vote for Trump. Gimenez golfed with Trump in the run-up to the mogul making a bid to take over a county golf course in 2014, and one of Gimenez’s sons has done lobbying work for the GOP nominee’s Doral resort and other local interests.

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Gimenez’s Trump ties were the subject of attack mailers against him in the Aug. 30 mayoral primary; the day after Regalado forced him into a fall runoff, Gimenez told a reporter he would not vote for Trump.

On Sunday, Gimenez denounced Trump over lewd comments he made to a television host 11 years ago when the two didn’t realize their microphones were live.

“What he said in 2005 is despicable,” Gimenez said on CBS4’s “Facing South Florida,” a weekly public affairs program. “Donald Trump needs to step down. I don’t think he is viable as a presidential candidate.”

Regalado, a School Board member, started off the exchange when DeFede asked her if she would vote for Clinton “since you find Donald Trump unacceptable?”

She responded: “I’ve said from the beginning that I don’t think the mayor of Miami-Dade County should be involved in this presidential race. The reason is whoever wins has to go to Washington and request money for our residents... I’m not going to endorse now. I have criticized Donald Trump specifically because of his view regarding the ‘dreamers’” — a reference to children who entered the country illegally with their parents.

Asked if she would vote for Clinton, Regalado said: “I’m not going to answer that.”

Mayor Carlos Gimenez and challenger Raquel Regalado talk about their mayoral debate on Jim DeFede's "Facing South Florida" at WFOR's studios in Doral on Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016.

Gimenez’s camp had discussed a Clinton endorsement before the Aug. 30 nonpartisan mayoral primary, which the incumbent thought he was going to win outright by crossing the 50 percent threshold. No endorsement came, and then Gimenez captured 48 percent of the primary vote to Regalado’s 32 percent, forcing a fall runoff. A Clinton endorsement seemed imminent last month, but fizzled in the wake of news reports about a possible announcement.

In an interview after the live taping on CBS4, Regalado declined to say if Clinton has her vote. “From the beginning, I’ve said I’m not going to take a position on this,” she said. “The fact that Carlos Gimenez changed his mind doesn’t mean I’m going to change mine.”

Both sides say Regalado, the daughter of Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado, enjoys notable support from a bloc of Hispanic voters continued most loyal to Trump in Miami-Dade: older Cuban-American Republicans. While the debate was airing, Regalado spokeswoman Elaine de Valle, who writes the Political Cortadito blog, tweeted “Breaking news: @MayorGimenez endorses Hillary Clinton on live TV!”

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