oscar_braynon_web.jpgFlorida International University

In an overwhelming victory, Democratic State Rep. Oscar Braynon II won a runoff election Tuesday to become the new District 33 senator, garnering about eight votes for every three that went to his Republican opponent  Joe Celestin.

Braynon, 34, received 9,212 votes, about 74 percent of all ballots cast, compared to 3,298 for Celestin, a former mayor of North Miami.

“This is about the issues,” Braynon told a crowd of supporters, family and friends celebrating his victory. “The people of Florida need help and they realize that the people on the other side are not providing solutions and we are.”

The results are unofficial until certified by the Miami-Dade Canvassing Board.

The district includes sections of Overtown, Little Haiti, Miami Shores, North Miami and Miami Gardens and the proportion of registered Democrats – about 71 percent – reflects Braynon’s margin of victory.

The seat opened after Frederica Wilson was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives last November.

Braynon gave up his District 103 state House seat when he decided to run for the senate. He previously served as a Miami Gardens council member and vice-mayor.
Celestin claimed he lost because the Braynon campaign recruited absentee voters, a common tactic that he called unfair.

Of 4,486 absentee ballots cast, Braynon got 3,284 votes and Celestine 1,202.

"When I saw the surge of absentee ballots, it was expected but I plan to challenge it in the courts," Celestine said.

Ana Perez and Deborah Souverain contributed to this report.

Jessica De Leon may be contacted at jdele002@fiu.edu.