After a battle with spinal cancer, former Miami Mayor Maurice Ferre, the first Hispanic to serve in that post, died at age 84.
“It is with great sadness that we mourn the loss of our dear friend, former Miami Mayor Maurice Ferre,” Miami Mayor Francis Suarez posted on Twitter. “He was a man of elegance, class, and grace who has inspired me to carry on his legacy of elevating Miami as a diverse world-class city. He will be greatly missed.”
Born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, Ferre served in the Florida House during the 1960s. He served as mayor of Miami from 1973 until 1985 and later was on the Miami-Dade County Board of Commissioners. Ferre’s most recent attempts at political comebacks were not successful, failing in a bid to be mayor again in 2001 and carrying 5 percent in the 2010 Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate.
In 2010, Ferre threw his support behind Republican Rick Scott’s gubernatorial bid. When first named by Scott to the Transportation Commission in 2011, Ferre ranked as one of the most high-profile Democrats appointed by the Republican governor.
Ferre returned to the Democratic in 2014 when he endorsed former Florida Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich for governor. But Ferre held his fire and did not attack Scott as he endorsed Rich. Rich came up short in the August primary to former Gov. Charlie Crist, a former Republican who abandoned the GOP to run for the U.S. Senate with no party affiliation in 2010 before joining the Democrats after the 2012 elections. When Ferre entered the Democratic Senate primary in the 2010 election cycle, Crist was the favorite for the Republican nomination. After Crist defeated Rich, Ferre came back to Scott, endorsing him and even starring in a Spanish-language TV ad the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) launched in the final weeks of the 2014 campaign. Ferre appeared in the ad with former Gov. Luis Fortuno, R-Puerto Rico. Ferre returned to the Democratic fold in 2018 to back former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, D-Fla., for governor.
Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo offered her condolences on Thursday.
“Today, we send our deepest condolences to Mayor Ferre’s family and friends. We will always remember Maurice A. Ferre for his trailblazing contributions to the city of Miami, his work for our state and his tireless fight for the people of Puerto Rico,” she said.