Voters in Hialeah and Miami Lakes who are registered Democrat or Independent can now disengage from the race to replace State Rep. Esteban Bovo (Rep. District 110), who hopes to become the next county commissioner in district 13. They can't vote on May 24 anyway.
That is right, ladies and gentlemen. As of today, that race is limited to Republicans only. Because a fourth candidate qualified Monday for the race as a "write-in" candidate and Florida law (which now is one of the laws Ladra must change) says that automatically means the election becomes a "closed primary" in which only Republicans can vote. But Ladra suspects it is an intentional manipulation in order to (a) ensure the party controls the seat and/or (b) ensure no moderate candidate can beat the culprit's "real Republican" candidate. Words to watch for in the campaign to find out if someone else is really behind this.
Candidate Antonio A. Moreno, 48, of Miami Lakes works for an architecture firm and told Ladra Monday that nobody encouraged him to file Friday for his first run at elected office ever. "Everybody is getting involved in politics now. I'm just a simple citizen who would like to get involved," he said. He said he knows he does not have much of chance and is just "testing the waters." as he put it. And he doesn't mind that he is disenfranchising voters. "Isn't that what democracy is all about? That's how the system is set up," said Moreno, who added that he went the "write in" method because he lacks financing and there are qualifying fees and costs (which also raise doubt about the seriousness of his candidacy). Moreno makes no apologies and hints at a future campaign for this or another office. "Eventually, I'll do it a a little differently." Yeah, well, eventually is too late if you meddle in this race intentionally and we catch you.
The other three candidates got the signatures they needed to get on the ballot by petition. They are former Marco Rubio legislative aide Rafael Perez; Frank Lago, chief of staff for Sweetwater Mayor Manny Maroño, who said he was bitten by the bug during his stomping for Gov. Rick Scott; and former Hialeah Housing Authority commissioner Jose Oliva, whose family owns Miami Lakes-based Oliva Cigar. For Perez and Oliva, this is a second stab at elected office. Olive dropped out of the 2005 race for the city commission seat that was vacated by Mayor Julio Robaina because of "personal" reasons. (And if he wants to know now, he's going to have to tell us what those personal reasons were, or else the doubt is there). Perez ran unsuccessfully against Erik Fresen (Rep. District 111).
Moreno said he doesn't know any of them. He says he is of no relation to pollster and campaign staffer Dario Moreno, who is reportedly working with Lago. "I don't know anybody in politics." he said. He works as an architectural designer at CSA Group, which is a firm near the airport that does some work for the school board. It is owned by Frederik Riefkohl, Jesus Suarez, Juan Malgarejo and Reinaldo Vera. The partners also have other businesses owned in partnerships with Willy Bermello, Juan Capote and Carlos Mallol. He also owns a company called Moreno Campos Architecture with Olga Campos.
Moreno told me that he did not participate in either recall against the county mayor or Seijas, which paved the way for this seat to open. He said he did not sign the petitions in the recall effort mounted by Norman Braman against former county mayor Carlos Alvarez and Miami Voice against Seijas. He did not volunteer or donate money for their causes, either.
"I don't have anyone behind me. It's just me and my family."
Hope none of them are Democrats because they won't be able to vote for you.