Ladra's was practically panting when she put on A Mano Limpia tonight to see who former State Sen. Rudy "The Ghost" Garcia, who came in third in the Hialeah mayoral primary Tuesday, would endorse in the run-off.
But he put off any endorsement, remaining the "absentee" leader and candidate even after he is no longer a candidate. How anticlimatic. And I thought he was ABC like Ladra.
It wasn't a fun half hour as a firefighter friend and I watched in fear that he would back Su Acaldito Carlos Hernandez. I know, from talking to a number of electeds and professional political operatives, that he is under extreme pressure to do just that from the Republican establishment that basically runs him. I know, from personal experience and talking to others who have called him, that he is not answering his phone. He admitted on the show to getting 200 phone calls (two of them were mine and his voice mail is full). And I know, from being no fool and talking to a number of his friends and associates, that he has further political aspirations. He does not want to sell carpets for his family business. And I know that you could very well see George Castro -- who couldn't even get 100 votes combined through absentee ballots, early voting and on election day (more on that later) -- elected mayor before you see Garcia endorse former Mayor Raul Martinez, a nationally-recognized, card-carrying Democrat who ran against Republican demiGod Lincoln Diaz-Balart in the 2008 Congressional race, and lost.
Maybe he will stay a ghost through the run-off and not endorse anybody. One can dream, can't one? But something tells me that he won't. Something tells me he will either endorse Hernandez to satisfy Republican leaders who may be promising him a fast track to some future post. Or he will back Martinez to keep any credibility, relevance and respect he still has in Hialeah. I mean, really, how can Garcia possibly support Hernandez after he talked so much about transparency and blasted su alcaldito for fiscal mismanagement, abuse of power and the threat to fire 105 firefighters to balance the bogus budget while giving millions in no-bid contracts to his friends and campaign contributors. He even brought those things up again on the show... hey, wait a minute... is that setting the stage for a Martinez endorsement after all? That would be like seeing snow in Hialeah.
Garcia said on the air that both candidates were seeking his support. Host Pedro Sevcec, who stressed the importance of the endorsement, said it was strange to hear both Martinez and Hernandez say nice things. "They were not laughing when they were next to you in the debate. Now they are very nice. They see virtues that they didn't see before," Sevcec said. Actually, I've heard Hernandez be a hipocrit but have not heard Martinez make nice. The Dark Prince told me in a quick telephone interview after the show that he had not spoken with The Ghost since election night, when Garcia congratulated him on getting into the run-off. He said he had not reached out to Garcia. "Other people are coming and telling me 'You need to sit down with Rudy.'" And he would not talk about rumors that Garcia's campaign manager, Al Lorenzo, wants to join the Martinez team.
Garcia noted the change. "In this very venue, they attacked me on many things," Garcia said, referring to a photo with George W. and Jeb Bush which was allegedly photo-shopped but found and shown to be real and an investigation by the State Attorney's Office (eventually closed with no criminal charges) that Hernandez surprised him with on the last debate. Garcia (photographed here one of the multiple times he chatted with Martinez during early voting... come to think of it, Ladra never saw him talking with Hernandez) even suggested that Martinez and Hernandez got together to beat up on him (stranger things have happened). "They united to attack me, attack me, attack me," Garcia said. "Why today am I so good and a week ago I was the worst? That is part of what I wanted to change, part of the political image that we need to change. We have to find a way that those things are not part of the future. Unfortunately, our campaign did not succeed with that message."
Actually, it looked like an opportunity for Garcia to start politicking for a new post -- or maybe a job since he offered himself as a political analyst or commentator on the station or any other media outlet. He also appointed himself the public watchdog of absentee ballots (um, is he trying to take my job? That's okay. We welcome that company and help), which is a welcome thing. He has contacts at the state level, one would think, that he may be able to tap into to start investigating and, better yet, changing the laws so that ABs can't be stolen so easily. He noted the wide disparity in the percentage of absentee ballots cast in Hialeah and said he heard stories where seniors were threatened with losing their housing or offered gifts and vacations.
"The important thing is to protect the voting privelege," Garcia said. "The most important right in this country is the right to vote." Then he promised "to be a watchdog for seniors and not permit intimidation or scare tactics... to look for a way to protect them so that doesn't happen again."
But the segment of the show was called The Rudy Factor and was teased as "who would he support" -- false advertising if you ask Ladra. He said he might not support anyone at all. "We are listening to comments of our supporters who are saying, 'Please don't support anyone because what would happen to your message if you support someone?'"
That sounds like a smart strategy. But Garcia said he has to talk more to his wife, his family and his supporters to see what is best for the community.
Sooooo glad he wasn't elected. Because if he can't even figure that out, he's slower than Councilman Pablito "Huh?" Hernandez.