Thursday, July 15, 2010

Alex Sink with "one of every color" on the campaign trail in Little Havana

Thursday was a busy day for several political aspirants -- from county commission candidates to state rep wannabes -- who tried to squeeze a little more coin into their campaign coffers before Friday's cutoff for the quarter.

But the big event Thursday night had to be the Miami Dade Democratic Party's fete for gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink at the Cuba Ocho Art and Research Center -- think a cross between a museum and an after hours -- on Calle Ocho in Miami's Little Havana.

Ladra feels honored that this is where Sink spent the last crucial hours of this collection period, even if we all know she is not sweating the primary. She told WPLG Channel 10 she would not buy ads until after August.

"There's not really a primary," she told a Univision reporter at the event Thursday while the camera man took B-roll after the on-air interview. (That surely is not news to Brian Moore, the other Democrat in the race who has hardly made a blip on the radar).

Dave Patlak, president of the Miami-Dade County Democratic Committee (who lost his 2006 bid for Congress against Ileana Ros-Lehtinen), said it was significant that Sink chose "the heart of Miami" for her last fundraiser of this period and he was glad that several local candidates took time out of their campaigning to come by. State Rep. Luis Garcia introduced the party's top state candidate and both Joe Garcia, who is running for congress in District 25, and Maurice Ferre, a candidate for U.S. Senate, made short appearances, Patlak said (Ladra got there a little late after another fundraiser.) Kendrick Meek, who is the party favorite even though they don't publicly say so, did not swing by but Platka said he was in DC. "His wife has been coming to our events," he said. But Mrs. Meek was not there either.

Ladra did run into Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall, a school board candidate in district 2, and was introduced to John Paul Arrien, a candidate for community council in district 11, by David Carcache-Guzman, a Sweetwater activist believed to have aspirations to that city's council. We are sure there are others we are forgetting or did not see. Doesn't matter because we get the gist: Photo ops abounded and even Sink, who is known to believe in and use the power of social media, told the crowd (of about 100 people, according to Miami-Dade Dems Executive Director Ric Herrero) that if they were going to take photos with her, they had to put them on facebook. She must have been stopped more than a dozen times as she walked the long path to the door to pose with candidates and saner people who wanted to pose with her for their profiles.

(Full album here: Ladra apologizes for the not-so-good quality of the photos and blames it on the fact that she had to use her camera phone. But it was her fault the digital camera battery ran out.)

"It's for facebook," said Gabriel Mendoza, an active member one-time precinct chair with the Miami-Dade Dems, as he and Sink stood in front of a huge painting of a silhouette of an old American car with the Cuban flag superimposed.

At one point, the candidate was posing for a photo with Miami Commissioner Willy Gort when Henry Crespo, outreach vice chair for the Miami Dade Dems, placed himself between them (at this point the group's executive director Ric Herrero had come up, and said, "This is for diversity." It was an innocent joking remark.

Everyone laughed, if maybe a little awkwardly, then Sink said, "In Miami, you have to have one of every color."

Now, Ladra likes Sink somewhat and would like to say that Florida has had an elected female governor -- which, sadly, we cannot say today. But that remark made me squirm a little. Not because it makes me uncomfortable. Ladra is immune to political correctness maybe because she knows it doesn't exist. But if only because this is Miami, and the Hispanics don't really consider themselves a "color"(many of them marked "white" on demographic studies, so watch out for those skewered numbers). Whether it is right or wrong is moot (Ladra happens to consider herself one of the green people), if she wants to reach the Hispanic voters here, she needs to be more sensitive to the fact that Miami is not LA or NY or even, dare I say it, Orlando. The Hispanics here might be snobby about that whole "Hispanic white/non-Hispanic white thing" but they vote, and she would do well to take that into account. Just sayin'.

Speaking of Hispanic outreach, Ladra asked Herrero what she was doing in our county, where the majority of voters are of some Hispanic descent, whether they are white or black. He said he did not know and to ask the campaign. But he also said the local dems will do their part to reach the Hispanic voters and community.

Maybe Miami Commissioner Willy Gort can help in that area. Prior to the "diversity photo," Sink and Gort got a chance to share a little one-on-one out of earshot. Ladra could not make out what Gort was telling her but the word, or rather number 2012 was in there (maybe his next run for office?). Another thing rang clear from Sink's nods, approving body language and the way the state CFO told one of her lackeys to follow up with Gort: She seemed to offer assistance or support.

So, does that mean that the leading Democratic candidate for governor -- who had an event Friday night at the Westin Diplomat Resort in Hollywood, where she will also be at the Florida Dems Jefferson-Jackson fundraising dinner (more on that in a bit) in town more often?

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