Miami-Dade commissioners targeted for defeat in elections this fall have a message for Norman Braman, the man recruiting challengers to run against them: We are not afraid.
Four commissioners, speaking from the dais at a meeting Tuesday, were defiant in the face of the latest campaign by Braman, the wealthy auto magnate who bankrolled last year's recall against County Mayor Carlos Alvarez. Braman said last week he wants to create a slate of candidates he considers reform-minded to unseat longtime incumbents. He has already found one: state Rep. Luis Garcia, who will drop out of a congressional race to challenge Commissioner Bruno Barreiro.
"Norman Braman is a bully," Commissioner Dennis Moss said, starting off the comments against Braman. "At the end of the day, I know some folks in this community are afraid of him ... But I'm not one of those individuals."
"A bully thrives on fear, but once a bully understands that you're not afraid of him, they go and find somebody else to terrorize" Moss added.
"The only thing Mr. Braman will make me do is campaign harder," she said, noting that even if a challenger has more money, she will walk her district door-to-door.
Barreiro said he has defeated opponents who have challenged him since his first election in 1992. "I don't fear at all an election," he said.
"I think it's good toa certain degree that he's doing this," Barreiro added of Braman. "Because we've been living under a cloud of this constant threat and bullying. And the only way that we're going to get this cloud away from Miami-Dade County is to have this election."
Commissioner Audrey Edmonson called Braman's efforts "an insult to our community."
"It's a sad day in Miami-Dade County when we allow one person to dictate who sits up here and represents the citizens of our community," she said, calling for the commission to stand together, presumably in opposition to Braman's campaign.
But that's unlikely. Braman has named names and said he backs some commissioners on the dais who will probably want to keep that deep-pocketed support.