|At the Victory Party: Soon to be Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava with Mayor Cindy Lerner|
The hard fought win is a victory against the permanent incumbency and by extension the unreformable majority of the Miami-Dade county commission. The Miami Herald misses the point in its headlining the election as a rare show of partisan politics. The organized special interests -- rock miners, FPL, big farmers, developers, lawyers, lobbyists and contractors who rely on county business -- aren't used to losing. (A few did contribute individually to Levine Cava, to hedge their bets.)
In other commission districts where informed citizens despair, Levine Cava's victory shows it IS possible to beat the machine. There is a recipe for success: a credible candidate who represents the public interest and not insiders, a candidate willing to walk every block of their district, a candidate smart enough to draw volunteers in a rational, orderly way and a way to raise enough money to be competitive.
Bell supporters are sore this morning at their narrow defeat. She skulked off without even addressing them last night. But in truth, Levine Cava would have won by double digits but for Bell's decision to bet her entire campaign on a bald faced lie. In terms of dirty politics, Bell's investment in tying her opponent to the highly unpopular deal for the Marlins Stadium ranks at the top. Although the Marlins' deal was highly unpopular, not a single incumbent county commissioner who voted for it has been held accountable at the polls.
One has to stand back and appreciate the audacity of campaign advisors who supported Bell AND the Marlins Stadium: Bell's team knew Levine Cava was strong and authentic and they needed a strong poison to undermine her appeal.
Throughout the campaign, and especially in the final weeks, Bell stuck to the script, she repeated the lie, and invested nearly a million dollars from her contributors to propagate it on television and in serial mailers to district voters.
In a low turnout election, the strategy very nearly worked. Levine Cava was caught off guard. And this is another lesson for prospective challengers: whatever lie the professionals can make stick, they will use it. Every moment Levine Cava spent on defending herself against their poison raised doubts among the uninformed about the key part of her campaign: giving citizens an honest voice on the county commission.
Had Bell lost while running an honest campaign, she might be able to count on a political future. But she didn't and she can't.
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.
From the very start of Levine Cava's campaign, political insiders handicapping the importance of the race understood that District 8 -- because it encompasses the last developable farmland in the county -- was going to be hotly contested but also with the caveat: it is only one of thirteen county commission seats. Some constituencies -- like environmentalists who bore the brunt of Bell's antipathy -- feared supporting Levine Cava because there is still the unreformable majority to "persuade" on critical zoning issues. Some feared retribution and some, perhaps, recall that former county commissioner Katy Sorenson -- when she held the District 8 seat -- was the lone voice of reason on many losing votes. For those doubters, today is a reprieve.
Congratulations to the voters of District 8, and to the supporters, volunteers, and to Daniella Levine Cava.
|Commissioner Audrey Edmonson and (I am not sure). It will be a very different County Commission now.|
|Daniella Supporters Lois Jones and Rosemary Fuller|
|Lynda Bell Earlier in the day with Miguel Diaz de la Portilla|