Thursday, April 7, 2011

Gimenez stays; Moreno goes?

After another high-profile candidate threw himself into the mayoral race last week and speculation grew that other big names would follow -- notably former mayors Alex Penelas (Miami-Dade) and Raul Martinez (Hialeah) -- some observers whispered Commissioner Carlos Gimenez, a front runners in the special election next month, might drop out.

Gimenez told Ladra this morning that was not going to happen.

"I'm in the race," he said in a telephone interview this morning. "I think that's just wishful thinking on the part of one of my opponents."

Gimenez would not say who, but other sources told Ladra that the rumor started on Cuban AM radio and could be linked to Hialeah Mayor Julio Roaina, who is considered the commissioner's strongest opponent. Or was.

Because Ladra also knows that the people around the other Robaina, former State Rep. Julio Robaina (REP District 117), who is ready to run to replace Gimenez in district 7, might have gotten a little nervous after the announcement by new candidate Jose "Pepe" Cancio -- who is seen as someone who would draw votes from Gimenez -- and a poll released by pollster Dario Moreno that said the commissioner trailed both Penelas and Robaina in appeal.

But wait just one minute. Isn't Moreno working for Gimenez? Why, yes. And he releases that poll? Ladra was not in political consulting very long (or very adept at these nuances) but is pretty sure that releasing a poll where the guy paying you is not number one, or at least number two, a big no-no. It could look like he is undermining his own candidate. Why would Moreno -- who is another one of those professional campaign people much smarter about those things than I -- publish those results?

Ladra is making predictions in these days as elections gear up, and wants to make a campaign prediction: Moreno will switch campaigns if hasn't already. If not by his own accord, it will be because Gimenez or his campaign manager JC Flores fire him. I know I would. Because we found some context, shall we say, not included in the Miami Herald's front page story about the poll.

The survey was commissioned by the Center for Voter Advocacy, the PAC tied to Emerge USA, a group of activist who formed in 2006 to work with under represented Muslim, South Asian and Arab American communities "to create the leaders of tomorrow in those communities," according to the website "These and other similar situated communities need Emerge USA to channel community members into the existing political structure of America in order to create those leaders who can one day run for office, work on political campaigns and get involved in the political party structure." On facebook, it states: "The broad goal of Emerge USA is to take the Muslim community from being a voice for Muslims to becoming a voice for all Americans."

Now, I am all for representing under represented communities (that is why I am against Emperor Norman Braman's Master Plan to redistrict commission seats and lose representative voices). But Ladra would like to see where that under represented community is. Because in five years, the Margate-based CVA has spent 45 % of it's $6,619 in contributions investing in Miami-Dade candidates. The PAC gave $1,000 in two $500 gifts to State Rep. Oscar Branyon (DEM Dist. 103) for his election (even though he ran unopposed) and gave $500 to former Palmetto Bay Mayor Eugene Flinn in the district 8 commission race in November. (Flinn's campaign manager at the time was Keith Donner, whose own PAC has funded negative attack ads against Gimenez). CVA maybe changed their mind about the commissioner, because they had given Gimenez's 2008 campaign, but it was only $250 (same thing they gave to Public Defender candidate Carlos Martinez). Same year, they gave former county mayor Carlos Alvarez $500. (Huh?) They also gave $500 to Anitere Flores in 2009. I hope she has been representing their communities well with her immigration policies.

Again, PACs can be good, but need to be transparent. Why is this PAC paying or asking Moreno (did he do it pro bono?) to do a poll in the mayoral race? I would like to know who their horse is. Is it Cancio? Moreno worked for Braman on the recall of the mayor and Cancio suddenly appears as the white knight Braman wished for publicly a few weeks ago when he said he hoped a non politician would come into the race with his own money (Cancio loaned himself $160,000) and serve only until the 2012 election (which Cancio said was his intent). Daughter Marili Cancio (who lost the primary in U.S. Senate District 25 to Paul Crespo), was very supportive of the recall and Braman.

Ladra has always liked the Cancio crew (his family and my family were not necessarily close but were cordial co-members of the Vedado Tennis Club in Cuba). And, like Gimenez, I believe he is a good man with good intentions. But I'm skeptical of this last minute entry and potential Braman ties and I don't want him to be manipulated or used to dilute the vote.

Can we please have some transparency here about who is running who and behind who?

Political Cortadito will have some predictions in coming days and wants to make a campaign prediction now: Moreno will switch campaigns if hasn't already. If not by his own accord, it will be because Gimenez or his campaign manager JC Flores fire him. I know I would.

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