First off, SDM says: Congratulations Ms. Levine Cava for your victory. We wish you all the best and hope you represent South Dade well. (Would that your opponent had sufficient breeding to say the same to you last night.)
In retrospect, SDM should not be surprised that Ms. Levine Cava is South Dade’s newest political figure. Despite anemic turnout (15.9% in District 8, which was just a tiny bit higher than the countywide figure), Levine Cava secured a 2% victory over a sitting county commissioner. No small feat.
But the reason SDM should not have been surprised can be found in two sets of numbers. First, the ethnic breakdown of District 8: 45.7% of registered D8 voters consider themselves to be Hispanic; White, 35.7%; Black, 11.2%.
The second set of numbers is also important: 40.75% of D8 voters are registered Democrats; 29.65%, registered Republicans; and 28% register as not affiliated with the major parties.
These numbers show that Levine Cava entered the race – all things being equal – with a built-in advantage approaching 20% with ethnic voters (Hispanics + Blacks, who vote North of 90% for Democrats) and an 11% edge with partisan Democrats. One might even go so far as to say that Levine Cava underperformed given her numerical advantages, but saying so when a new candidate topples a well-heeled incumbent seems picky.
SDM Aside: If the Bell campaign consciously turned this race into a partisan test, she deserved to lose.
Of course, incumbency usually grants an enormous edge in money and resources and Lynda Bell certainly milked that cow fully. Time will tell the extent of her financial advantage; SDM has no doubt it will be substantial. But Levine Cava should be acknowledged for keeping the money race close enough for campaign purposes.
Compound all of Ms. Levine Cava’s assets with Mrs. Bell’s well-chronicled faults and the result is a a political earthquake at county hall. We commend to you the postmortems by Eye On Miami and Political Cortadito:
From Eye on Miami: Who are the winners and losers? It is a good day for Good Government, for former county commissioner Katy Sorenson who supported Levine Cava quietly at first but increasingly visible in the final weeks, and for Cindy Lerner, mayor of Pinecrest, a smiling, optimistic and battle-scarred survivor of Florida’s slash and burn politics. Today will be a very low day for any of the campaign advisors and lobbyists who supported Bell.
Political Cortadito named Organized Labor, County Employees, the current commission majority, the Miami-Dade Democrats, the LGBT community as winners, the Pet’s Voice, and Levine Cava’s campaign managers as winners. Losers included Mayor Gimenez, developer Wayne Rosen, and Bell’s staff and campaign advisors.
Here’s SDM’s take on the winners and losers:
Katy Sorenson & Cindy Lerner: Both were early Levine Cava supporters and form an ideological sisterhood with the Commissioner. Both will find open doors at county hall and not just with Ms. Levine Cava.
Bell’s campaign advisors and lobbyists – Both the advisors and lobbyists will find a way back into favor. The same folks who supported Bell will be courted down the road to support Levine Cava and a smart pol will try to keep the advisors off the field next time. The folks at Eye On Miami will look the other way to get her back in office, too. It’s how things work.
Organized Labor – The county unions had a big, big victory yesterday. Levine Cava will be a solid vote for them…or, will she? Think about this fact: Ms. Levine Cava will become the wealthiest person on the county commission when she takes her seat. Once she really sees what’s going on with budget and the abuses by the union, will she remain a loyal soldier? All you have to do is say “no” one time and the unions will be looking to put in the back-up quarterback. Good luck staying on their good side while retaining your ethical center.
County Employees – It’s interesting and telling that Ladra (Political Cortadito’s author) draws a distinction between labor and the employees. In fact, the two groups are not always on the same page and Ms. Levine Cava will learn that lesson during the budget hearings next month. Non-union employees have been getting the shaft for nearly a decade while the unions have been getting rich. We shall see if Ms. Levine Cava cares about non-union staff.
Miami-Dade Democrats – Was it Democrats who won this election? Or, was it the non-affiliated voters? Or, was it White voters (a mix of the three) who dumped Bell? If the Democrats were the difference, then why wasn’t the margin larger?These super-low-turnout elections are so difficult to figure out.
LGBT Community – No argument here from SDM. The LGBT community will find a friendly ear with Levine Cava and rightly so. We don’t buy into the religious right’s intolerance.
Pet’s Voice – Again, SDM agrees with the following caveat: the reason the pet’s trust hasn’t been funded to the level that Pet’s Voice demands is because the county doesn’t have that kind of money, pure and simple. Ms. Levine Cava will learn this uncomfortable fact next month and will have to choose between funding the very worthy cause of animals who face euthanasia and the other worthy causes involving mammals that walk on two legs.
Levine Cava’s campaign team – SDM’s simple response: what have you done for me lately?
Mayor Carlos Gimenez – Understand something about this entry by Ladra: she has flipped 180 degrees on this guy. During Gimenez’s first run, she fawned all over him like he was a rock star. Now, she wants him recalled. Nevertheless, she’s right that Gimenez put his chips on Bell and lost, so he has to do some work to win over Ms. Levine Cava. In the end, politicians find a way to kiss and make up. SDM bets Gimenez will find a way to work with Ms. Levine Cava and vice versa.
Wayne Rosen – SDM agrees, Rosen bet big and lost big. Then again, guys who will write checks of the magnitude Rosen does tend to attract politicians the same way Miami attracts scam artists. So long as Mr. Rosen will contribute big money, someone will take his calls.
Bell’s staff and campaign team – Losing one’s job sucks and SDM hopes they bounce back soon. The campaign team will find other candidates to represent, though the top guys have lost their “wunderkind” status.
SDM Says: To paraphrase a 19th century English statesman: Dade politicians, lobbyists and advisors have no permanent friends or allies, they only have permanent interests.