While Miami Beach commissioners played hokey pokey in the race to replace disgraced state Rep. Richard Steinberg -- they put their name in, they took their name out -- a surprise candidate mounted a serious campaign to claim the House District 113 seat.
Attorney, entrepreneur and political newcomer Adam Kravitz filed papers to run May 17. He said he quickly poured $250,000 into his campaign.
By comparison, Steinberg raised $330,000 when he ran a contested campaign for the seat in 2008.
"I believe in this and that's why I'm putting money into this," he said. "The first question you get asked [when courting investors for a business] is 'if you think it's so great where's your money?'"
Kravitz, 47, said he has been active in campaigns and politics from San Francisco to the United Kingdom, where he ran for municipal office for the Labour Party. The married father of two owns a home on Miami Beach's Alton Road and said he made a small fortune selling his interest in the Jewish internet dating site JDate.com in 2004. He said he also co-founded the non-partisan elections website eVoter.com.
Kravitz said that as a businessman and not "just another politician" he can work with Republicans, but he sees himself as a "strong Democrat": "I'm a good candidate to go up there and rebuild the party."
Kravitz has campaigned for weeks while attention in the race to replace Steinberg, who resigned in February amid a stalker-like texting scandal, was focused on the candidacy of Miami Beach commissioners.
Commissioner Jonah Wolfson announced he would run within days of Steinberg's resignation, but backed out on May 16. On that same day, Beach Commissioner Deede Weithorn told The Herald she would run forthe seat.
But Weithorn never filed papers, and her husband, Mark Weithorn, announced Tuesday that he would run in her stead.
"We were discussing it in the family because it's important to have good representation in Tallahassee," said Weithorn, a 54-year-old real estate entrepreneur. "We have a lot of issues that need to be addressed."
Weithorn, a Democrat, will have about 11 weeks to raise a warchest to rival Kravitz before the August primary election. He is working with lobbyist and political consultant Randy Hilliard, who ran his wife's 2011 city commissioner campaign. Kravitz has hired consultants Jeffrey Garcia and Keith Donner.
"There's been a lot of rumors and gossip and hand wringing going on," said Garcia. "And while all that's going on, Adam is aggressively running, aggressively campaigning, meeting voters, soliciting contributions and working it."
Democrat Christopher Gates, who did not return a call from a reporter, has also filed to run.
Whoever wins the August primary will presumably face independent, openly-gay candidate David Guzman in the November general election.
--DAVID SMILEY(An earlier version of this post misstated that Kravitz said he had never run for office.)