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Norman Braman Denies Bullying Voters, "Handpicking" County Commission

MIAMI (CBS4) - After successfully recalling Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez and Commissioner Natacha Seijas last year, auto tycoon Norman Braman has his new target – four incumbent county commissioners.

"The purpose of what I'm doing is to give the voters of this community an opportunity to make a choice," Braman told CBS4's Jim DeFede Wednesday. "They haven't had that opportunity simply because the system's been rigged."

Braman says incumbents already have an unfair advantage as lobbyists and special interests finance their campaigns. Challengers rarely can raise the money needed to get elected

"What I'm doing still will not equal the combined resources of these four incumbents," Braman said.

Braman slate includes Miami Garden Mayor Shirley Gibson over Commissioner Barbara Jordan; Alison Austin against Commissioner Audrey Edmonson, Alice Pena over Commissioner Dennis Moss and state Representative Luis Garcia against Commissioner Bruno Barreiro.

"If [voters] decide to vote for the incumbent commissioners, so be it," Braman said. "If they decide they want real change" they'll vote for someone new.

Braman said none of the people he is supporting will be beholden to him.

"We haven't asked them to sign any pledge or anything like that," Braman said. "But all of them are committed to meaningful charter reform in the community; they are all committed to doing away with the slush funds each of the commissioners have. They are interested in giving reform a chance."

The incumbent commissioners are expected to blast Braman throughout the election and try to make it seem that he is bullying voters. Braman said he is prepared for the attacks and expects to become an issue in the campaign.

"Barbara Jordan is not going to debate the issues with Mayor Gibson," Braman said. "And Audrey Edmonson is not going to debate the issues. And Dennis Moss and Bruno Barreiro are not going to debate the issues. They are going to focus attention on me. If they focus attention on me, that's fine. I'm proud of my record in this community and what I've done."

Braman has formed two political action committees -- Change Miami-Dade Now and Vote For A New Miami-Dade. He said he expects to spend between $500,000 and $600,000 to help his defeat the four incumbents.


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