• Martha Schoolman

A Hyperlocal, Cautiously Not Pessimistic Guide to the November 8 Midterms

In memory of Giovanna Pompele (1962-2022), a fierce progressive and kind supporter of this site.



TL; DR

Senate: Demings

FL 27: Taddeo

Governor: Crist

AG: Ayala

CFO: Hattersley

Agriculture: No Recommendation

State Senate 36: Pacheco

State Senate 38: Perez

State House 113: D’Amico

State House 114: Benna

County Commission District 6: Fors

South Miami Mayor: Fernandez

South Miami Commission: Readon

Supremes: Canady: NO; Couriel: NO; Grosshans: NO; Labarga: YES; Polston: NO

Appeals: Bokor: YES; Scales: YES

Constitutional Amendments: 1: No; 2: No; 3: No.

County Referenda: 1: YES; 2: YES

School Board Referendum: YES

Overview:

It’s hard to be a hopeful Democrat in Miami-Dade County, Florida, but we have some outstanding candidates in close but winnable local races as well as a reasonable chance of success in statewide. So open up your wallets and sign up to volunteer, it will actually help this time.


Basic Voting Details:

Vote By Mail ballots have been mailed. If you still need one, request it here. VBMs are not forwarded, and requests do expire every two election cycles, so there are a number of reasons why you might need to renew the request.


Early voting begins October 24. Locations here. You can vote inside or drop off your VBM. If you’re dropping off, a poll worker will check your ID and confirm that you have signed in the right spot. It’s Miami-style, so you can drive through. This is a great way to entice your lazy friends and family to the polls.

Election Day is November 8. Vote at your local precinct. They won’t accept a pre-filled VBM at the precincts on Election Day. They’ll give you a new one to fill out.


Recommendations roughly in ballot order:

Federal Races: Fingers crossed.


Senate: Val Demings

Demings is in a tough race to unseat Marco Rubio, who is running a frankly racist and transphobic campaign claiming that moderate ex-cop Demings is a “dangerous radical” who “wants to turn boys into girls.” She has money and is spending it well. Keep it coming.


US Congress District 27: Annette Taddeo

This is a winnable race with national implications. The Dems can probably hold the Senate without Demings, but we need to flip this seat to hold the House. There are tons of D’s living in this district and current occupant María Elvira Salazar is so completely full of shit that Taddeo (currently a State Senator representing Pinecrest) refers to her on the campaign trail as “la mentirosa.” Send $, drop by the campaign office in Sunset Place to pick up signs and stickers, volunteer. It’s worth your time.

Statewide Races: Who knows how this will go, but we have some good candidates.

Governor: Charlie Crist and Karla Hernandez

As I’ve said before, this race is kind of a bummer on paper but pretty good in real life. Crist is an old ex-Republican Governor famous for his tan and fan, and, until last month, was a Congressman from St. Pete, trying to pull a Biden by running as the reasonable, familiar guy taking on the extremist. However, Crist is actually running a very good progressive campaign, focusing on reproductive rights and bread-and-butter issues like property insurance rates. Plus he positioned himself in a very gratifying way as an anti-DeSantis by choosing Karla Hernandez-Mats, until recently the president of United Teachers of Dade, as his running mate. Make calls and put up a sign.


AG: Aramis Ayala

Not sure of her chances but Ayala is a very smart, very progressive former State Attorney from Orlando. Indeed, she may be the most progressive person on your ballot this cycle. I was surprised and happy to see her beat the better funded and more attention-seeking Daniel Uhlfelder for the nomination. I hope she wins.


Chief Financial Officer: Adam Hattersley

Former state rep from Hillsborough County. A smart guy who makes the CFO job sound surprisingly compelling. He is also a Navy vet who somehow has a 300-page self-published campaign biography about his state rep race. I guess that means he has his sights set higher?


Commissioner of Agriculture: UGH

The Republican nominee Wilton Simpson is of course terrible, and the Democratic nominee Naomi Blemur was revealed to be a homophobic grifter too late in the primary process to lose the nomination in August. Vote for no one or vote for her as you wish.

Statehouse in individual districts. This is probably the most encouraging group of candidates running. All young Latinx liberals-to-progressives beginning their political careers with incredible brains and energy.


State Senate

District 36: Raquel Pacheco

Pacheco is running against Ileana García, who stole this seat (or had it stolen for her) from José Javier Rodriguez in 2020. García is now more notorious for claiming on the Senate floor in defense of “Don’t Say Gay” that “LGBT is not a permanent thing.” This new district, replacing the former district 37, is a squat rectangle stretching roughly from FIU to Miami Beach, north of Bird Road and South of the Dolphin Expressway. Pacheco is hoping to turn out the gays and García is working the homophobes. Great person to volunteer for, particularly if you are comfortable canvassing in Spanish.


District 38: Janelle Perez

Perez, a lesbian mom and cancer survivor, is running to (more or less because redistricting) replace Taddeo in the State Senate. This is a must hold Democratic seat and Perez is doing an excellent job on the campaign trail. Thus the insane disinformation campaign that has lately cropped up against her on your texts and Hulu ads. Great person to volunteer for, especially if you live in the district.

State House

District 113: A. J. D’Amico

D’Amico is running to replace Nicholas Duran, a progressive Dem who chose not to run again. Could be more challenging to hold this seat due to redistricting, but he’s busting ass to win. Volunteer.


District 114: Adam Benna

Benna is running to unseat Demi Busatta Cabrera (married to Kevin Marino Cabrera, running for District 6 County Commissioner below), elected in 2020 over JP Bado, who unfortunately did not run a competent campaign to defend this seat for the Dems in 2020. Benna on the other hand has his ducks in a row. Support him in any way you can, this is an attainable flip.

Miami-Dade County Commission District 6: Jorge Fors

After Agriculture Commissioner, this is the most dispiriting race on the ballot. Fors is a current Coral Gables City Commissioner, a basic young foagie Cuban Republican attorney. However he is in a runoff against the Trump-endorsed and proud boy adjacent lobbyist Kevin Marino Cabrera (married to district 114 state rep Demi Busatta Cabrera), who won the plurality (43 percent for Cabrera to 26 percent for Fors) in the primary. Hold your nose and vote Fors to block Cabrera.

South Miami Mayor: Javier Fernandez

Former District 114 state rep also affected by the FPL-funded decoy candidate scheme that took down José Javier Rodriguez when both were running for state senate 2 years ago. Excellent dude who will be a great mayor.


South Miami Commission: Michelle Readon

Lifelong SoMi resident and planning commission member running against Republican Lisa Bonich, who has somehow formed a PAC for his race. Mayor Stoddard endorsed.

Judicial Retentions (slightly updated):


Supreme Court: There are various schools of thought on whether judges should be evaluated this way, and none have ever been fired by a retention vote. However, there is a significant movement afoot to remove four of the five justices up for retention due to their far-right extremism. For example, the “Balls and Strikes” blog, joint editorial by the Orlando Sentinel and the Broward Sun-Sentinel , and UM Law Professor Michael Froomkin. Here's an informative TikTok on the topic from local activist Cesar Flores, if that's how you roll.

Charles T. Canady: NO

John D. Couriel: NO

Jamie Grosshans: NO

Jorge Labarga: YES

Ricky Polston: NO


3rd District Court of Appeals: There does not appear to be a parallel wave of resistance against the appeals judges, so I advise voting yes on them. Let me know if you’ve heard otherwise!


Alexander Spicola Bokor: YES

Edwin A. Scales: YES


Constitutional Amendments (slightly updated): These are amendments proposed by the FL legislature.


No. 1: NO

Making residential flood resistance improvements non-taxable. A ridiculous bandaid for our climate crisis woes and tax break for the rich. Probably not bad in itself, but does not belong in the state constitution.


No. 2: NO

Abolishing the Constitution Revision Commission. Obviously undemocratic.


No. 3: NO

Additional homestead tax exemption for various public employees. Cogently opposed by League of Women Voters as costing local governments too much in lost revenue.


County Referenda: These referenda are aimed at protecting some home rule for the county against a very aggressive state government.


No 1. YES

Creating a home rule loyalty oath for county commissioners and mayor.

No 2. YES

County must get voter approval before transferring ownership of “transportation assets.”


School Board Referendum: YES

More money for teacher salaries, unfortunately has to be shared with school cops and charters.