Surprise results in Tuesday’s primary, now on to November

Miami Herald Editorial Board

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez takes the stage Tuesday night with his wife, Lourdes, and grandson Michael Gimenez Gato.
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez takes the stage Tuesday night with his wife, Lourdes, and grandson Michael Gimenez Gato. Miami Herald Staff

Well, that was a surprise: Legislative candidate David Rivera, controversial and determined, is back in the game; and Roy Hardemon, often arrested, rarely convicted, topped a field of far more qualified opponents in another race for the State House.

Then this: Frederick Bryant — you have every right to ask, “Who?” — won about 22,000 votes in the race for Miami-Dade County mayor, siphoning off just enough to force incumbent Carlos Gimenez into a runoff with former School Board member Raquel Regalado. She worked mightily to unseat him; he worked mightily for an outright win. Neither happened, so they slog on to November.

They disagree on just about every issue except one: Both used the specter of Donald Trump to smear the other.

Then there was the expected: Though U.S. Rep Debbie Wasserman Schultz muscled out the first serious opponent she has faced in her career as an elected official, Tim Canova — well financed and well versed in many issues — rode the wave, at least for a while, of nationwide support for Bernie Sanders. It was a proxy war in the “Vermont senator vs. Hillary Clinton, revolutionary vs. the establishment” battle.

Make no mistake: Though he ultimately didn’t make the case for ousting Rep. Wasserman Schultz — who will face Republican challenger Joe Kaufman in November — Mr. Canova, a law professor, has an impressive command of the issues that matter — gun control, Israel’s security, protecting the environment, among them. He should take another stab at elected office.

For most incumbents, Primary Day was a breeze: Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, extremely popular and capable, rolled over earnest, but weak, competitors. She’ll face Democrat Scott Fuhrman in November; likewise, Rep. Frederica Wilson pretty much steamrolled over former football star Randall Hill, committed to public service, yes, but unable to tackle this pro.

And for the anointed, losing wasn’t an option, it seemed: Once Sen. Marco Rubio jumped into the race he said he would not enter — after Republican heavyweights said “Pretty please!” — only opponent Carlos Beruff was left standing, and not for very long. The senator will face the “chosen one” on the Democratic side: U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, for whom President Obama himself went to bat.

Rep. Murphy, ducked and dodged his way out of debating his main opponent, the accomplished Rep. Alan Grayson or even the lesser-known and dynamic Pam Keith, whom we recommended. That’s too bad. Rep. Murphy could have honed his debate skills before having a go at Sen. Rubio, who, after his grueling presidential campaign knows a thing or two about making a case.

But for all his might, Sen. Rubio is still squirrelly about his commitment to serving a full, six-year term — and that’s too bad. His constituents already know what it’s like to have an absentee senator. He would have the temerity to put them through that again?

For Miami-Dade Commission incumbents Dennis Moss and Xavier Suarez — plus former Commissioner Joe Martinez — it was smooth sailing back to County Hall. But for Mayor Gimenez, who wanted to join them there without a runoff, the wind wasn’t as brisk, or at his back.

Ms. Regalado ran a high-volume campaign that flogged the mayor, accusing him of failing to get traffic moving, conflicts of interest and spurning the Pets’ Trust. By consistently throwing a barrage of allegations against the wall, enough stuck to propel her into a runoff with Mr. Gimenez, whom the Editorial Board recommended this month. That, and the votes siphoned off by also-rans Mr. Bryant and Alfred Santamaria, who also received 22,000 votes.

However, the mayor’s surrogates threw some mud on his behalf, sending out fliers in which her face morphs into that of Donald Trump. Unseemly.

These candidates need to hit the reset button. Voters want to see more light on their vision of the county’s future. Enough of the heat.