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Former Miami-Dade police director wins office

Associated Press
Published November 3, 2004

Former police director Carlos Alvarez was headed for victory Tuesday night in the race to become Miami-Dade County's new mayor.

With just 4 percent of the precincts still to be counted, Alvarez led County Commissioner Jimmy Morales with 54 percent of the vote to Morales' 46.

The winner will have just two weeks to prepare to take over the nation's eighth-largest county on Nov. 16.

Both men billed themselves as reformers, pledging to start cleaning up county government immediately.

The winner, who will be paid $190,134 a year, replaces Alex Penelas, a term-limited politician whose bid for the Democratic nomination for retiring U.S. Sen. Bob Graham's office failed in the primary.

Morales and Alvarez topped a primary field of eight, Alvarez winning 28 percent of the vote and Morales 20 percent to force Tuesday's runoff.

Though it was a nonpartisan race, Morales, a Harvard-trained lawyer who has been on the commission since 1996, played to his Democratic Party affiliation. Alvarez, who oversaw a 5,000-person department with a $450-million budget, had strong support from Republicans and the Hispanic community.

GOP keeps grip on Legislature

In an election largely over before it started because of redistricting that locked down many incumbents' seats, Republicans easily kept their grip on the state House and Senate Tuesday.

Going into the election, Republicans held an 81-39 lead in the House and a 26-14 majority in the Senate.

The most closely watched Senate race involved a Central Florida seat where Republicans were targeting incumbent Democrat Gary Siplin of Orlando for defeat by Republican Franklin Cardona. However, with 98 percent of the precincts counted, Siplin was leading 65 percent to 35 percent.

In the House, where all 120 districts were up for election but only 45 seats were contested, Democrats hoped to knock off a couple of GOP incumbents, but it wasn't shaping up that way.

Republicans succeeded in taking away at least one seat formerly held by a Democrat. That was in northeast Florida, where House Democratic Leader Doug Wiles was forced out by term limits. With the votes nearly all counted, the GOP candidate, Flagler College chancellor Bill Proctor, had 55 percent, compared with Democrat Barbara Revels' 40 percent and Libertarian Jerry Cameron's 5 percent.

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