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More Miami shadiness: write-in ringer runs 'against' Manny Diaz, Jr. -- after stumping for him and his pals

Photo(1)There's nothing new about political operatives creating mischief with straw-man candidates in races in Miami-Dade. But because every legislative and congressional race was technically open this year, there's more chance for more mischief.

The latest example: Josue Vazquez, a Hialeah activist who felt so passionately about politics that he decided to file as a write-in candidate in the House District 103 race -- technically running against the very man, Manny Diaz Jr., who had paid him $2,100 for campaign work in 2010. About the same time, Diaz's buddies, current representatives Jose Oliva and Eddy Gonzalez, were paying Vazquez $1,720 for their campaign work as well.

Diaz, Oliva and Gonzalez are all running on the same Hialeah-area slate. Did Vazquez have a falling out? Quite the opposite. Write-in candidates are often a buddy of a candidate on the ballot whose sole role is to ensure that a primary race is decided only by one-party's voters. In HD 103, that means only Republicans can vote for either Diaz, School Board member Renier Diaz de la Portilla or Alfredo Naredo-Acosta. If Vazquez weren't running, the all-Republican race would be open to voters of all parties. With the write-in, though, the contest becomes a closed primary.

This isn't the only race with suspicious candidates. Two write-ins closed the Democratic primary between State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle and Rod Vereen. Democrats suspect Congressional candidate Justin Lamar Sternad is a Republican plant. And political consultant Sasha Tirador got her mother, Ileana Abay, and her employee, Maykal "Miguel" Balboa, to run against Oliva and Gonzalez, respectively. Gonzalez, meantime, is suing Tirador and Balboa to strip him from the Aug. 14 ballot.

Picture 5

In the races with write-ins, those candidates won't appear on the ballot. Their names will have to be written in by voters in the general election. That means the winner of the HD 103 primary will face Vazquez, who will raise and spend no money as he furthers what looks like his acting career.

And it looks like Vazquez knows how to act. His pretend-world Facebook page drips with enough script-like double-talk to make a cynic smile:

Josue Vazquez is a college graduate disgusted by the lack of leadership from our politicians. Join Josue Vazquez on an adventure for true change and a voice for the people as he fights his way to the position of State Representative District 103.

Favorite Quotations
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Well, there's nothing in the Bible about running as a write-in candidate with a phony platform. But there is the warning in Matthew about "false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves."