Looks like the slate of recycled politicians running for office again is a full house in Hialeah: two former mayors and three council campaign veterans makes for a very nice hand. I'll stay.
So what if they did not drive in together to the Hialeah city council meeting Tuesday? If it looks like a slate, acts like a slate and feels like a slate, it's a slate. The incumbents are likely going to join forces as well on another slate, but this one is the slate that makes the next three months downright decadent for a political junkie like me. Ladra likes to call them The Back to the Future Five and, yes, I think they should use theme song. The B5s (for short) are led by former mayor and current mayoral candidate Raul Martinez (the boss) and Professor Alex Morales (the brains). Former cop-turned-housing employee Danny Bolaños (the brawn) is the only other original band member. Former councilman and mayor Julio Martinez (the backup), a known boss ally who registered last week to run against councilman Jose Caragol, and former councilwoman Cindy Miel (the beauty) just round out the slate. It was nice to see them all, for what Ladra thinks is the first time this campaign season, at City Hall Tuesday. Because they are a slate.
"What slate? There is no slate," said Martinez, the boss, who does readily admit to anybody -- like anybody needs reminding -- that running against Morales or Bolanos would be a bad idea. My words, not his. I think his were "Don't mess with Alex. Don't mess with Danny."
"There is no slate," the professor is tired of telling me. I explain to him, as the eager student trying to impress, that there is, indeed, a de facto slate, a natural alliance because of their parallel pasts. Although Bolaños is the only one who has not been elected before, he was robbed in that race and his tortured Greek tragedy story in the city as son of the revered, longest serving police chief makes him Hialeah nobility and one of them. The Back to the Future Five all talk about the same issues. They are all going to count on an anti-incumbent wave they are all going to fuel. They are likely going to be on the same side of the campaign war as the nasty battles break out. They're a de facto slate.
"Oh, well, if you want to know whether when I'm campaigning, I will urge people to vote against all the incumbents, the answer is yes, of course," Morales said. So do I get an A? Wait, let me expound on more evidence.
Everyone talks about "campaign HQ" referring to the storefront on West 49th Street -- in that shopping strip space the acting alcaldito had red-tagged for no real reason except political harassment (more on that later) -- that was opened up by Morales when Martinez was in Bimini. The other Martinez, who Ladra met at a fundraiser for Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez at Hialeah's La Carreta, was first mentioned by one of the B5 as a coming-soon candidate to Ladra weeks before he was on anybody's radar and in exactly the group that Julio Martinez signed up for. And campaign fundraising consultant Irene Secada, who worked on Miel's past campaigns and put together that fundraiser at La Carreta, was spotted wooing Morales this week at Maruch, which is where the three original band members of the Martinez Municipal Machine regularly meet to practice.
It's a slate, professor, Mr. Mayor. And, Ladra will venture to say that if the momentum keeps up the way it has so far, it could be a winning hand.
But we still haven't seen the cards held by mayoral candidate and former State Sen. Rudy Garcia, who could start to stack his own slate and raise the pot with a Frank Lago or a Ramiro Sicre or -- does Ladra dare say it? -- a Rafael Perez, the popular Hialeah homeboy who lost a bid for state house in May to Jose Oliva. While Perez has only been helping in the Garcia campaign, the qualifying deadline is in September and there could be more surprises.
Maybe a card or two up someone's sleeve.
Ante up, everybody.