The Coral Reef Library polling station in South Miami-Dade is a house divided.
They’re not divided about Cuba. Or the Middle East. Or even Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump.
They’re split over whether Ana Rivas Logan, candidate for the state Senate, yelled at primary opponent Andrew Korge: “I’m going to kick your ass.”
About 20 campaign workers present on Sunday morning, with no apparent ax to grind for either candidate — they work for other people on the ballot — were about evenly divided Monday about what they saw and heard.
Not even the police — yeah, they were called — know for sure. The cops filed a vaguely written report and left.
The dispute actually began on Saturday, when Korge showed up at the library to woo voters. Korge was surprised to see Norma Estela, a campaign worker handing out literature for Rivas Logan. About six weeks ago, Rivas Logan said she was suspending her campaign. Korge and Rivas Logan are running in a compact, Kendall-based district.
Estela told the Miami Herald that Korge got in her face, snapped pictures from inches away, demanded to know why she was at the polls and knocked Rivas Logan literature out of her hand.
Korge denies that he touched Estela.
“I asked the woman who she was working for and told her that Ana Rivas Logan had suspended her campaign,” Korge said in a text message. “She became confrontational and called me a liar. I took pictures of her on my phone and walked away.”
The same thing happened Sunday: Korge came to campaign. Estela said she was harassed. Korge denied it. This time, Rivas Logan showed up after Estela called her — and the police. Rivas Logan arrived first and stepped out of her car.
That’s when the accounts diverge.
“Yeah, I raised my voice but I never said I was going to kick his ass,” Rivas Logan said. “I am a teacher. I would never use that kind of language. I said he was going down” in the election.
The police arrived a few minutes later, and basically told both candidates to go to their neutral corners.
“Upon units arrival both parties were separated and calmed and advised they were allowed to remain at the polling site for campaigning but told to stay on opposite sides of the area to avoid any further verbal disputes,” the police report said.
Korge left and went to two other polling places, the Kendall Branch Library and West End Regional Library. Rivas Logan happened to be present at both places, and Korge says he called the police at West End, although neither candidate confronted the other.
“Ana Rivas Logan has reemerged as a ringer candidate in an attempt to defraud voters and make false allegations to create negative headlines about me,” Korge said.
Rivas Logan’s campaign indicated in July she would withdraw from the race — which would trigger a ballot warning to voters that a vote for her would not count. But she never formally withdrew. Now, she is reemerging on the campaign trail — she took off half of the first day of school to campaign outside Coral Reef Library on Monday.
“I came to defend this poor lady,” Rivas Logan said in reference to Estela when asked why she left school to campaign. “This is why very few women go into politics.”
The Korge campaign has run fliers in the past few weeks attacking Rivas Logan, a former Republican state representative, for her voting record in Tallahassee.
“If she doesn’t want voters knowing about her right-wing record, she shouldn’t be running for office,” Korge said.
Sunday’s escapade is the latest wrinkle in a Democratic state Senate primary that has been anything but boring. A third candidate, state Sen. Dwight Bullard, accused Korge of offering him $25,000 to drop out of the race. Rivas Logan subsequently suspended her campaign and Bullard was recently slapped with $7,000 in fines for not filing campaign finance reports on time.
The latest confrontation between Korge and Rivas Logan left one campaign worker shaking her head: “I think they were both acting crazy.”