Florida’s newly amended resign-to-run law claimed its first casualty Saturday when Miami-Dade Commissioner Bruno Barreiro resigned his seat in order to run for Congress.
In a letter to Miami-Dade’s supervisor of elections and its clerk of courts, Barreiro announced he was giving up the position he has held since 1998 as he prepares for an August primary to claim the seat being vacated by retiring U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. In an unexpected wrinkle, Barreiro said he was giving up his commission seat immediately.
“As you know, [Friday] Governor Scott signed to reinstate the Resign to Run law, therefore, I hereby resign my office as Miami Dade County Commissioner for District 5 effective immediately,” Barreiro wrote.
The newly amended state law requires elected officials holding local office to resign their positions in order to qualify to run for federal office should the terms of the two offices overlap. Barreiro’s resignation, however, didn’t have to be submitted for several more weeks. And even then, Barreiro didn’t have to actually give up his seat until his replacement would need to be sworn in, although under county procedure that could happen swiftly.
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Barreiro, who had more than two years left on his final term, said Saturday that he didn’t want to drag out his final weeks in office since he had to resign anyway. He also said he wanted to allow the county to begin the process of replacing him sooner than later, and preferred to end rumors that he’d drop out of the race rather than resign.
I didn’t want to delay any further
“A big part of the message is to end that speculation, whether I’m committed to this and whether I would resign. Nothing stronger than the proof in the pudding,” said Barreiro, who is seeking the Republican nomination for Florida’s 27th congressional district.
State Sen. José Javier Rodríguez, Miami Beach Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez and Miami Commissioner Ken Russell face the same scenario as they seek the Democratic nomination to represent the district in Congress. Rosen Gonzalez has said she plans to sue the state to challenge the law.
Under Miami-Dade’s county charter, a new commissioner can be appointed by a majority vote of the other 12 commission members within the next 30 days, and serve until the next county-wide election. Or, commissioners can call a special election “to be held not more than 90 days thereafter to fill the vacancy.” Under that scenario, Barreiro’s elected replacement would serve out the remainder of his term.
“I will be consulting with our attorneys,” Commission Chairman Esteban “Steve” Bovo said in a text message.
One person who might be interested in playing the successor? The ex-commissioner’s wife.
Zoraida Barreiro, who finished third in a November Miami commission race that served as her first campaign for public office, did not return a voicemail message. But Bruno Barreiro acknowledged Saturday that they’ve discussed her interest in his seat.
“She says she would be interested, and so forth,” Barreiro said. “My wife is definitely interested in public service. She’s shown it before any of this occurred. I think you should reach out to her. I don’t want to speak for her.”