Martin Vassolo
Feb 1, 2023 - News

Miami students speak out after African American studies course canceled

Illustration of a book as the bottom of a padlock.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Several Miami high school students forced out of a pilot Advanced Placement course on African American studies rejected by the DeSantis administration say they feel "robbed" of their education.

Driving the news: Three Black students who were enrolled in the course this year at Robert Morgan Educational Center told the Miami Herald they had wanted to learn more about African American history and were shocked that state officials would cancel the class.

Some Miami Democrats want party chairman to resign after GOP wins

Illustration of a combination of the Republican elephant and Democrat donkey merged.

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

After Democrats suffered stunning losses in Miami last November, some members of the local Democratic Party are demanding that their leader resign.

Why it matters: Miami-Dade has long been viewed as a Democratic stronghold, but Republicans won nearly every race in the county last year, Politico reports.

Martin Vassolo
Updated Dec 14, 2022 - News

2 top Surfside administrators and police chief suddenly resign

Surfside Town Hall is pictured, with an American flag and palm trees in view.

Surfside Town Hall. Photo: Martin Vassolo/Axios

Surfside is in political turmoil after two high-ranking administrators and the small town's police chief resigned one after the other.

Why it matters: In the span of 24 hours, Surfside, a town of 5,600 people that gained worldwide attention after the deadly Champlain Towers South collapse last year, is suddenly left dealing with the departure of the officials in charge of day-to-day operations.

Martin Vassolo
Dec 6, 2022 - News

Miami Beach runoff election: What voters need to know

Miami Beach commission candidates Laura Dominguez (left) and Sabrina Cohen

Miami Beach commission candidates Laura Dominguez (left) and Sabrina Cohen. Screenshot: City of Miami Beach/YouTube

Miami Beach voters will elect a city commissioner today to replace the late Mark Samuelian, who died in June.

What's happening: First-time candidates Laura Dominguez and Sabrina Cohen advanced to today's runoff after neither received a majority of votes in November's election.

  • Dominguez, who was Samuelian's partner, was the top vote-getter last month, receiving 41% of the vote to Cohen's 31%.

Why it matters: The election's outcome could shift the balance of power on a seven-person commission that, at least once since Samuelian's death, found itself in a 3-3 deadlock.

  • Depending on who comes out on top, it could benefit either Mayor Dan Gelber or his chief political rival, Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez, who considered Samuelian an ally on the dais.

Zoom in: The outcome may also affect South Beach's nightlife scene, which commissioners have been debating since the passage of a nonbinding referendum last year calling for a citywide rollback on alcohol sales from a 5am cutoff.

  • Cohen has said she supports imposing a 2am cutoff on alcohol sales on Ocean Drive, the world-famous oceanfront strip known for its late-night bars and restaurants.
  • Dominguez said she would support imposing a 2am last call in residential areas but declined to say how she would handle Ocean Drive and other nightlife hotspots, the Miami Herald reports.

The intrigue: Gelber, who worked with Samuelian on the referendum last year, is endorsing Cohen.

  • Cohen has also received support from commissioners David Richardson and Ricky Arriola, while Dominguez is backed by commissioners Rosen Gonzalez and Commissioner Alex Fernandez.

Background: Cohen is a Realtor and disability rights activist. Her nonprofit, the Sabrina Cohen Foundation, is planning to build an adaptive recreation center that the City Commission voted last year to help fund.

  • Dominguez, who owns a digital marketing firm, worked on Samuelian’s previous campaigns as treasurer and campaign manager. She said she felt inspired to run after his death.
  • Dominguez — who lent her campaign $200,000 of her own money — has spent about $378,000 on the race, while Cohen has spent about $98,000.

Be smart: The winner will serve until November 2025, when Samuelian’s term would have ended, the Herald reports.

Miami-Dade flips red: Midterm lessons for Republicans and Democrats

Illustration of a zoomed-in elephant walking on the beach.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Miami-Dade County swung red this election, making Gov. Ron DeSantis the first Republican gubernatorial candidate to win the county in two decades.

  • It's a sharp reversal from 2018, when DeSantis lost the state's most populous, majority-Hispanic county by roughly 20 points.

The intrigue: There were early signs that Republicans had turned the tide. Statewide, Republicans had roughly 292,500 more registered voters than Democrats.

  • Since the last gubernatorial election in 2018, the GOP has added more than 553,000 registered voters in Florida, per Bloomberg. Dems, meanwhile, lost about 114,000 registered voters from the end of 2021 to October, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Zoom in: More Miami-Dade Republicans voted early than Democrats, a big shift from 2018, according to the county elections department's unofficial data.

  • Plus: More registered Republicans than registered Democrats voted at precincts at Florida International University and Miami-Dade College's Kendall campus, suggesting that perhaps even young voters were leaning red.

We spoke with Miami-Dade Democratic Party Chair Robert Dempster and Armando Ibarra, president of the all-volunteer political group Miami Young Republicans, to better understand strategies on the ground that led Miami-Dade to flip.

What they're saying: Ibarra, 38, told Axios that the GOP's victory is partly due to organizing efforts like his group's.

  • The Miami Young Republicans — who Ibarra says work closely with the state Republican Party — phone bank, hold events and knock on doors to get out the vote.
  • Former President Trump's victory in 2016 inspired Ibarra's group, which he says has about 200 paying members, to try to turn Miami red. They started with smaller issues, like legalizing ride-sharing in the county, and worked up to presidential elections.

Their lessons: Ibarra's group tapped into issues that he says evoke strong feelings for some Latino voters, such as policing and the gender-neutral term Latinx.

  • "We were among the earliest that were criticizing and really mocking — making fun of — Latinx," he said.
  • Calls to "defund the police," Ibarra said, can be off-putting to Latinos who fled countries with high levels of violent crime.
  • And ultimately, "abortion is not the type of issue that drives [Latinos] out to vote," he said.

The other side: Dempster told Axios that Democrats have to do a better job registering voters, recruiting volunteers and maintaining a "consistent messaging strategy."

  • Dempster said Democrats had "some exceptional candidates this cycle," but that the party needs to convince voters that liberal candidates "are the ones who are fighting for the policies that will make their lives better."
  • "Tuesday's results are obviously disappointing, but the Miami-Dade Democratic Party is focused on the road ahead and the work required to win back the county," Dempster said in an emailed statement. "Work that we are confident that we can and will do."
Martin Vassolo
Nov 10, 2022 - Politics

Post-midterms, Ron DeSantis positioned as GOP's 2024 "front-runner"

Banners for former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis are pictured at a conservative rally.

A Trump booth reflects the current political thought of conservative America. Photo: Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images

Gov. Ron DeSantis' dominant re-election win on Tuesday, including flipping long-blue Miami-Dade County, solidified his status as a 2024 presidential contender.

  • Conservative media, from the New York Post to Fox News and the Wall Street Journal, responded yesterday with headlines touting him as the future — or "DeFuture" — of the Republican Party.

Republicans win big in Florida, flipping long Democratic Miami-Dade

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis smiles as a crowd of supporters cheers for him.

Gov. Ron DeSantis campaigns for re-election during a rally this week in Hialeah. Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/AFP via Getty Images.

Gov. Ron DeSantis easily won re-election last night over Democratic challenger Charlie Crist, the Associated Press reported, as Republicans made big gains across the state.

The big picture: Tuesday's election serves as further proof that solidly red Florida is past its days as a swing state.

Midterm election results: Miami-Dade Commission, Miami Beach runoff and more

An aerial image shows a park and tall condominiums, as seen from a drone in the sky.

Voters in Miami Beach had a lot of decisions on Election Day. Photo: Visions of America/Joseph Sohm/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Races and referendums in the Miami-Dade metro saw plenty of hot ballot action last night.

Miami-Dade County Commission: In District 2, home to many Haitian Americans, Marleine Bastien, a social worker who was born in Pont-Benoit, Haiti, prevailed over North Miami Mayor Philippe Bien-Aime, who's also Haitian-born.


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