Miami-Dade Commissioner Xavier Suarez is not on the Nov. 6 ballot. But he's getting attacked in a robocall just the same -- by former state Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla.
Diaz de la Portilla, a Republican, is running in Florida House District 112, which overlaps with portions of Suarez's commission district. Suarez has backed Diaz de la Portilla's opponent, Democrat Jose Javier Rodriguez.
"Who is Xavier Suarez?" a woman sneers on Diaz de la Portilla's robocall. "Isn't Xavier Suarez the guy who was removed from office for voter fraud? Isn't he the guy that actually convinced a dead man to vote for him? Isn't he the guy who knocked on a senior’s door at 2 in the morning, in his robe? Remember that? We do. Crazy Xavier Suarez. We know who he is. And what he's done. And now that he wants his son to be the mayor of Miami, he attacks and attacks good people. We understand. Fool us once, shame on you. Fool us twice, shame on me."
The robocall then provides Suarez's cell phone number -- twice -- and suggests voters call to "tell him we're on to him." A disclaimer on the robocall identifies it as coming from Diaz de la Portilla's electioneering communications organization, Citizens Desiring Accountable Government. (Listen to the robocall here.)
"This guy is an overly ambitious well-known flake who invented voter fraud," Diaz de la Portilla said in a text message. "He wants to perpetuate whatever power he believes he has. I feel bad for him and his foolish ambitions."
Suarez said he had gotten more than 20 calls as of Monday afternoon from voters asking him about the robocall. None of them, Suarez said, have spoken favorably about Diaz de la Portilla.
"This is precisely one of the reasons for not supporting Alex," Suarez said. "I like everything about Jose Javier. I think he'd make a very fine state representative, and I don't feel the same way about Alex. I personally don't dislike Alex, but I think he's not nearly as qualified as this guy."
Diaz de la Portilla's ECO went after another county commissioner, Esteban "Steve" Bovo, earlier this year after Bovo's former aide became entangled in a voter-fraud investigation involving a Hialeah ballot broker. Diaz de la Portilla put out a robocall and a flier trying to recall Bovo.
Suarez, a Republican in a nonpartisan post, supported Diaz de la Portilla's older brother, Miguel, in his successful Florida Senate bid two years ago. Suarez said he backed Rodriguez in the Florida House race after meeting him at a couple of Harvard alumni events. Suarez and Rodriguez both have degrees from Harvard Law School; Suarez also has a master's in public policy from the university. His son, Francis, is chairman of the Miami city commission.
"We're both pretty well-liked," the elder Suarez said. Of the robocall, he added: "It just might backfire."
Diaz de la Portilla vowed to continue the robocalls over seven days.
At least one caller told Suarez that the robocall's caller ID showed Suarez's number, even though the robocall didn't originate from him. Another caller said she had had a baby three days ago and begged him to get the robocalls to stop. A third said he liked Suarez and his son and had no intention of backing Diaz de la Portilla.
"I don't really have much to say about Alex and his tactics, except I have a tendency to file suit against anyone who defames me, so he should probably be aware of that," Suarez said.
And, Suarez added, he might change his cell phone number.
--MARC CAPUTO AND PATRICIA MAZZEI