Race between Asencio, Rivera headed for recount

Robert Asencio
Robert Asencio

The tight race for a legislative seat between Democrat Robert Asencio and Republican David Rivera, which apparently ended Tuesday with Asencio defeating Rivera by 68 votes out of nearly 63,000 cast, is so close that it will almost certainly trigger a recount, Miami-Dade County elections officials said Wednesday.

The decision to recount the ballots can only be made by state officials. But state law requires an automatic recount when an election’s margin of victory amounts to half a percentage point or less. The 68 votes separating Asencio and Rivera is much less, about a tenth of a percentage point.

State officials won’t declare a recount until Friday, when they get final election results (including the final outcome of any disputed ballots) from the Miami-Dade canvassing board. “We should have results of any recount by Monday or Tuesday at the latest,” said Robert Rodriguez, spokesman for the Miami-Dade Elections Department.

The House District 118 race between Asencio, a Miami-Dade Schools Police sergeant, and Rivera, a former congressman ousted after a scandal over illicit campaign contributions, was harsh and vituperative.

A political committee backing Rivera launched a website and a series of robocalls labeling Asencio a “child abuser” based on a dismissed 2003 complaint that he pulled a school kid off a bus by the neck. And Asencio hammered Rivera over his campaign-contribution troubles during a 2012 congressional race against Democrat Joe Garcia. That scandal resulted in a $58,000 fine by the Florida Commission on Ethics and is still under federal criminal investigation.