Unconfirmed results of an unseen mayoral candidate poll -- and this time Ladra only got the same information from two people, not the three we like to have -- are not surprising in the sense that Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina may have dropped from two-months-ago numbers.
Robaina still leads, but he lost a whopping 10 points -- a significant decline since it went from a comfortable 28 to a too-close 18, closing the gap with former county commissioner Carlos Gimenez to 6 points. The drop is likely the result of Miami Herald headlines and other news stories about his alleged loansharking and connections to an allegedly admitted Ponzi schemer and the alleged subsequent investigations and alleged pending arrests. Ladra hopes that her barking about his bundling of contributions by allegedly shady business partners who have poured at least $68,000 into his $673,000 campaign also had something to do with the crowd going sour on Julito.
But what we were saying was that no, that is not so surprising. We were surprised to find Luther Campbell in the number three position on that poll with a 7 point percentage. Now that's interesting. Didn't expect Campbell, who blew off the candidate debate presented by DFAM earlier this week, to be in the top three.
But as much as Ladra would looooove to see Uncle Luke be the boss, I am telling people -- like my cousin who told me at Easter brunch that she was going to mark Campbell as a "protest vote" -- not to vote for him. That is exactly what Robaina wants: a runoff with Campbell.
Maybe it's too early to rule Marcelo Llorente and Jose "Pepe" Cancio out, and Ladra never got to see this poll, so I can't vouch for it independently. But I can vouch, so far, for the people who gave me the information, both begrudgingly (because I am good). So let's just pretend that those numbers are valid, also because they make sense. Llorente and Cancio may cancel each other out more than anybody else. And despite there being 11 candidates, there really isn't anyone else in this race. Roosevelt Bradley? Not a chance. Ever. Gabrielle Redfern? She is building her name recognition for the next time. (Llorente is also. More on that later). The other perennial candidates must just be practicing or positioning themselves for another run later on.
Ladra likes Luke, who has gained "community hero" status. We read his blog on New Times more now that he got our attention as a candidate. But he should withdraw from this race. He won't win a runoff against Robaina. We would love to see that, but we don't think it would happen. And, let's face it, as much as Robaina would loooove to have his runoff against Campbell -- anyone but Gimenez, really -- Campbell could become a real community hero and withdraw. Otherwise, his candidacy will be used by Robaina.
Watch this week as Robaina and/or his PAC, who have more money than Changó, start scheming to get Campbell into the number 2 position with attack ads on Gimenez. The idea is to divert votes not only to Campbell, but also to Cancio and Llorente. Because any lost vote for Gimenez would close the gap between him and Uncle Luke, and benefit Julio.
Will it be enough? Not a chance. Ladra predicts what everyone also feels is a sure thing after May 24: A showdown between the two top contenders. Let's call them Richie Cunningham vs. The Fonz. Gimenez, of course, is the nerdy, vanilla policy-wonk who goes to sleep ridiculously early and boasts that he likes to "underpromise" so he can "overdeliver." Just like a career bureaucrat. Robaina is a slick Rico Suave smooth operator with friends in low places who has already shown a tendency to over-promise and under-deliver. In other words, he knows what to say to woo the crowd, but doesn't know what he's saying.
That's the runoff we need and deserve. How about it Uncle Luke? Take it out of Julio's hands and run for Commissioner Bruno Barreiro's seat in 2012 instead. I hear he is pretty vulnerable. (More on that later).