MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The race for Miami-Dade County mayor is headed for a runoff election.
With 97-percent of precincts reporting, incumbent Mayor Carlos Gimenez has 48 percent of the vote while his most outspoken opponent, Raquel Regalado, has 32 percent of the vote. She’s a former school board member and daughter of the City of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado.
Gimenez needed to top 50 percent in the non-partisan primary to end the election and win another four years as head of Florida’s largest county.
Just after 9:00 p.m., Gimenez took the stage in West Miami-Dade and conceded he has two more months of campaigning to do.
“Unless something changes I look forward to a spirited campaign with Ms. Regalado,” said Gimenez.
Mayor Gimenez spent more than $4 million dollars in the most expensive mayoral race in Miami-Dade history. In the end, he came up short a few thousand votes.
“This will be my third time in a runoff election and I do very very well in November,” he stated.
Gimenez said he expected to win but the wildcard he claimed was Frederick Ryan, a retired teacher who garnered almost 9% of the vote and took third place.
“Two more months of campaigning and I look forward to four more years as your mayor. Thank you very much,” he said.
Gimenez plans to push forward with his message of jobs, transit and affordable housing. As for two more months of attack ads by his opponent, the mayor said, “I will continue to run a positive campaign. Negative campaign is not my style. I have a platform. I have a vision. I have experience. And I think I’ve done a pretty good job as Mayor of Miami-Dade County.”
Gimenez says the county has come a long way while he’s been in office. As current mayor, Gimenez is responsible for a $7 billion budget and he leads more than 26,00 employees.
Meantime, Regalado claimed victory Tuesday when she came in second place, forcing Mayor Gimenez into a runoff.
“We know people are not happy with the status quo, that residents are not satisfied with the level of services and the pay-to-play politics that permeates our county government,” Regalado said, surrounded by supporters. “We know that we can do better. And, apparently, so do voters.”
If Regalado were to win in November, she would be the first female mayor of Miami-Dade.
“I hope Miami-Dade County is ready for a female mayor,” said Raquel Regalado on Tuesday.