Tight finishes for ugly Florida Legislature contests

Several Florida Legislature races were tight to the end, making for an intriguing end to a primary
season filled with ugly attacks.


Gus Barreiro: Second Paragraph from last:

A slew of colorful and nasty Miami-Dade legislative primary races concluded Tuesday night with a former
county commissioner leading a longtime state representative in a battle of Republican heavyweights -- and a
contest too close to call between two candidates who fended off a flier calling one of them ``ugly'' and the
other one a dangerous ``Arab.''

Results were coming in as expected in Broward, where State Rep. Ellyn Bogdanoff was leading State Rep.
Carl Domino in a hard-fought GOP primary to represent a Broward/Palm Beach district in the Florida Senate.
Bogdanoff, the only Republican legislator who lives in Broward, pushed for county ethics reform during this
year's legislative session.

The race in the GOP primary to replace Bogdanoff in a coastal Broward/Palm Beach seat was still undecided
Tuesday night. Businessman David Maymon had outraised attorney George Moraitis, but the Florida
Democratic Party has filed a lawsuit attempting to get Maymon tossed from the ballot for incomplete financial

State Rep. Gwyn Clarke-Reed of Deerfield Beach held a slim lead against her Democratic challenger, Wilton
Manors City Commissioner Justin Flippen. Clarke-Reed is black and Flippen is openly gay, creating concern
among some Democratic activists that their race could divide the two communities.

In Palm Beach, former state Rep. Irv Slosberg was coasting in a Democratic primary to retake his old seat.

In the fiercest Senate race in Miami-Dade, Miguel Diaz de la Portilla was ahead of state Rep. Julio Robaina
after a bare-knuckled campaign that saw the two candidates jostling over who was more conservative.

A win for Diaz de la Portilla -- who raised about twice as much as Robaina, a well-known retail politician -- will
keep the district that runs from Cutler Bay to Allapattah in family hands: Diaz de la Portilla will replace his
older brother, Alex, who is term-limited. (A third brother, Renier, is on the Dade School Board.)

Leading the four-way GOP primary to represent a swath from West Kendall to Doral in the House were two
candidates who had been attacked by a dirty flier. The mailer attacked assistant Miami-Dade state attorney
Carlos Trujillo for being the son of ``Arab and non-Cuban parents,'' and blasted former state Rep. Carlos
Manrique for his looks and for scandalous details from a nearly 20-year-old divorce.

In contests featuring the return of ex-legislators, former state Sen. Gwen Margolis held a commanding lead
over North Miami Mayor Kevin Burns to represent a coastal Miami-Dade district that spills into southeastern
Broward. Margolis, if she wins, is expected to beat her opponent in November, Corey Poitier, who is running
without party affiliation for the Miami-Dade/Broward district.

And former state Rep. Gus Barreiro held a comfortable lead over fellow Republican Tony Japour
to take on the Democratic incumbent, state Rep. Luis Garcia of Miami Beach, who was unopposed.

Two Miami-Dade candidates who face no opposition in the general election appeared poised to head to
Tallahassee: North Miami Beach Councilman John Patrick Julien was ahead of three other Democrats for a
northeastern Miami-Dade seat, and lawyer Cynthia Stafford had a healthy margin in a four-way Democratic
primary to represent an area from Miami Beach to the edge of Hialeah