Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Recall dominoes start falling

It's official. State Rep. Esteban Bovo (Rep. District 110) waited exactly one week filed paperwork with the county elections department Tuesday to indicate he will run for the Commission 13 district seat vacated by the recall of veteran Natacha Seijas.

Well, really, he has been waiting longer. Bovo (Rep. District 110) is considered by most Hialeah political observers as the heir apparent to the seat. Nobody else has indicated they would run, but some other names batted about Hialeah council members Isis García-Martínez and José "Pepe'' Yedra and ex council member Cindy Miel, as well as Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi (who could face his own recall). Don't expect Pizzi to jump in now. He cannot beat Bovo in Hialeah, where Bovo built his political career and was last elected with a 71 percent vote in 2005.

It might also cause some angst (and possible conflict of interests) for his client, the recall PAC Miami Voice, which Ladra bets supports Bovo, longtime political pal of Miami Voice Chair Vanessa Brito, who in 2009 talked to the owners of Hialeah Race Track (where Bovo once worked and has close ties) about doing public relations and media work for them. In fact, Ladra can't help but wonder if Bovo had any connection (six degrees or otherwise) to the $5,000 gift she got for her company to transfer to her PAC (an violation of campaign finance laws typically referred to as political money laundering). We don't know that he's not, either. And this is exactly why it is still important for her to disclose that information. So we don't have to guess.

Bovo said on a radio show last week that he was looking at the seat and had "a great desire to return to my community" even if he had to "abandon" his state job in mid-session. "Without a doubt, reaching the county appeals to me," he was quoted in the Miami Herald blog as saying.

Well, duh. The good ol' Hialeah boy has far more impact and influence as 1 of 13 than he would as 1 of 120. He has to resign from the state house to run, but will likely wait until after the date is announced for the special election, which could be as early as tomorrow.

There are three other Republican Hispanics who want his seat in Tallahassee. Two are former legislative staffers that now want to be on the other side of the table: Former Marco Rubio legislative aide Rafael Perez, who lost a race for Rubio's old seat to Erik Fresen (Rep. District 111) filed Monday and Frank Lago, chief of staff for Sweetwater Mayor Manny Maroño, who has said he was inspired by campaigning for Gov. Rick Scott was the first to file in February. The third is not completely an outsider: Former Hialeah Housing Authority commissioner Jose Oliva, whose family owns Miami Lakes-based Oliva Cigar and filed the paperwork Tuesday, could also make his second stab for office. He dropped out of the 2005 race for the city commission seat that was vacated by Mayor Julio Robaina because of "personal" reasons. If he wants to run now, Ladra wants to know what those reasons were.

Both Perez and Lago, who would have to move into the district if they were to take office, indicated in filing papers that they would serve as their own treasurers. Oliva might already have an edge in that department having Jose Riesco, who has been a treasurer and fundraiser for both Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart, as his head money man.

Also watch for an interesting alliance between Oliva and State Rep. Eddy Gonzalez (Rep. District 102) who wants to run for Hialeah mayor to replace Robaina (who is running for the county mayor's seat and might make a third musketeer here). Oliva hosted a fundraiser for Gonzalez, who is considered a Robaina ally, earlier this year at his cigar shop.

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