A Republican mayor from a GOP stronghold in the suburbs of Miami-Dade is taking on the county’s Democratic mayor in 2024, handing Daniella Levine Cava her first challenge from a sitting elected official.
Manny Cid, the two-term mayor of Miami Lakes, filed papers Friday to run for county mayor. The 39-year-old restaurant owner joins two other challengers in the officially non-partisan race, 11 months before all candidates face each other in an August election for the county’s most powerful post.
If no candidate receives more than 50% of the August vote, the contest would stretch to November, when the mayoral election would overlap with voters casting their ballots for president.
“The county has never had a working-class mayor,” Cid said Friday ahead of a planned formal launch early next week. “Somebody who is just like everybody in the 305.”
He said he planned to rally working-class voters and small-business owners to a win against Levine Cava, a former lawyer and non-profit executive who became the county’s first female mayor in 2020.
County candidates are not identified by party on ballots, but in 2020 Levine Cava ran an allied campaign with the Democratic Party to win a county that Joe Biden won by seven points. Republicans see the partisan trends shifting their way in Miami-Dade after Gov. Ron DeSantis won the county by 11 points in his reelection last year, the first Republican at the top of the ticket to win the county since 2002.
Carlos Gimenez, Levine Cava’s Republican predecessor and a former Miami firefighter who became department chief and city manager, has teased the possibility of leaving his congressional seat to seek his old position next year.
Other officer holders on the Republican mention list for the 2024 mayoral race include Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, county commissioners René Garcia and Raquel Regalado, and Esteban Bovo, the Hialeah mayor who lost to Levine Cava in 2020.
Miami Lakes is one of the most reliably Republican areas in Miami-Dade, with 65% of the town’s voters backing Donald Trump in 2020, according to a McClatchy analysis precinct data.
One Republican is already challenging Levine Cava: Alexander Otaola, the host of the “Hola Ota-Ola” YouTube show that focuses on conservative politics, Cuba and claims of a communist menace facing Miami-Dade. Her other challenger, Miguel “el Skipper” Quintero, is a Democrat and a trapeze artist who is in a legal fight with the county over a zoning dispute for his home-based circus school.
Reelected to a second term without opposition in 2020, Cid must leave his part-time post as mayor in 2024 due to term limits. He’s the owner of the Mayor’s Cafe restaurant in Miami Lakes, where he works busing tables, cooking and running the business.
The Miami Lakes charter places administrative duties in a town manager, with the mayor serving as chair of the Town Council and ceremonial head of the government. With a population of about 30,000 people, Miami Lakes is a mid-size municipality in Miami-Dade, a county with roughly 2.7 million residents.
Miami Lakes has a median income of $85,000, according to Census statistics, compared to $58,000 countywide. Miami Lakes recently approved an 8% reduction in its property-tax rate, while Levine Cava’s 2024 budget has a 1% reduction for the countywide property tax.
“I think the Miami Lakes story will be a big part of the campaign,” Cid said.
Asked to comment on Cid’s entry into the race, Levine Cava campaign manager Christian Ulvert released a statement that did not mention the challenger. “The Mayor’s focus continues to be on the important work she was elected to do and delivering solutions for longtime community challenges that were previously ignored,” he said.