The Miami Dolphins have been assembling a political team behind the scenes to handle what would be a sprint of a campaign for a May referendum to approve a potential, partly taxpayer funded deal to renovate Sun Life Stadium.
Topping the list of names is Michael McKeon of New York, who worked as communications director for former Gov. George Pataki, advised former Mayor Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign and helped sitting Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Also in talks with the Dolphins are two veterans of President Barack Obama's Florida reelection campaign last year: campaign chief Ashley Walker and spokesman Eric Jotkoff. Jotkoff has already been handling some of the Dolphins' communications.
The football team has so far kept on almost all of the local political operatives, many of them tied to former Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas, who is also advising the team. The locals helped the Dolphins garner the support of a majority of Miami-Dade commissioners. Only one operative has bowed out of the effort: Jesse Manzano-Plaza, who worked as County Mayor Carlos Gimenez's campaign manager last year.
Commissioners would have to vote in early April, at the latest, to set a potential May 14 referendum on any stadium proposal. State law requires Miami-Dade to notice a special election five weeks before it takes place, according to the elections department. Some preparations must begin about two months before each election, so the department is already testing voting equipment and plans to reach out to poll workers and polling place operators in the coming week to gauge their availability, department spokeswoman Christina White said.