By Tom Tillison
Florida Political Press
In what is the largest recall of a local politician in U.S. history, voters swept Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez out of office by a humiliating margin Tuesday.
According to the Miami Herald, the spectacular fall from power comes after two years of missteps, ranging from granting top staffers big pay hikes to construction of a publicly funded stadium for the Florida Marlins to implementation of a property-tax rate increase that outraged an electorate struggling through an ugly recession.
Now before you get too excited, this may be a good time to point out that Florida recall laws only apply to cities and charter counties. There are currently no provisions to recall elected officials at the state and federal level.
Of Florida’s 67 counties, 18 are charter counties; Alachua, Brevard, Broward, Charlotte, Columbia, Duval, Hillsborough, Lee, Leon, Miami-Dade, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota, Seminole and Volusia.
The signature requirement to begin a recall varies based on the number of registered voters in the jurisdiction. In Orange County, for example, it initially requires 5% of registered voters to start the recall process, followed by a second requirement equaling “15% of the electors” to set a recall election date.
St. Petersburg Democrat Rep. Rick Kriseman filed two constitutional amendments this past month to allow for the recall of legislators, members of the Florida Cabinet, the governor and lieutenant governor. HJR 785 and HB 787 ask voters to change the constitution to allow recalls either through petition or through statute.
Many saw this move as a reaction to Rick Scott’s rejection of federal money for high speed rail and it’s not expected to get much play in the current legislative session. It also points out the double edged sword that recalls represent by giving political opponents an option to go after rivals.
Something now playing out in full force in Wisconsin, where the AFL-CIO and SEIU are currently pouring huge amounts of national money into the state in an attempt to recall Gov. Scott Walker, who successfully eliminated collective bargaining rights for public employees in an attempt to address the state’s major budget shortfall.