September 23, 2016

Can Zika aid bill overcome its DC partisan past?



WASHINGTON Senate Republican leaders revealed what they called a breakthrough in Zika funding Thursday under renewed pressure from Florida lawmakers and mayors to break a seven-month political impasse.

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Democrats, however, said disputes over funding other urgent needs could still block any final deal, with the Zika money now part of a larger appropriations measure meant to fund the federal government through Dec. 9.

Just a few hours after Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine met with South Florida members of Congress and visited the White House to push for the stalled Zika money, the Senate Republicans disclosed the new Zika effort.

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Photo credit: C. M. Guerrero, El Nuevo Herald


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August 29, 2016

What you need to know for Tuesday’s primary election


@alextdaugherty and @doug_hanks

Planning to vote in Tuesday’s primary election? We’ve provided answers to a list of frequently asked questions.

Numerous races are on the ballot, notably the election for Miami-Dade County mayor, along with Republican and Democratic primaries for U.S. Senate. Various state legislative, school board, county commission and judicial seats are also up for grabs in Miami-Dade and Broward.

I’m not a registered Republican or Democrat. Should I bother to vote?

For some offices, like U.S. Senate and Congress, only registered members of a specific party may vote. But in Miami-Dade County, all registered voters can cast a ballot for mayor, school board, county commissioner and judge. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, a runoff election will be held in November for the top two finishers.

In Broward, independents can vote in non-partisan races, including contests for judge, state attorney and school board. Voters in both counties are also voting on a constitutional amendment about solar energy.

So is the mayor’s race in Miami-Dade ending Tuesday or not?

That depends. If one candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, the race ends. If not, the race heads for a November run-off on Election Day between the top two finishers.

That’s just for the mayor’s race?

No, that’s the rule for all non-partisan primaries, which is how most county-level and city-level races are decided. So school board races, judge races and other local posts could wind up on the November ballot if no winner is declared Tuesday.

What about the races for Miami-Dade County Commission?

Those three races would be eligible for a run-off, except each contest only has two candidates. A run-off is only a possibility with more than two candidates.

August 15, 2016

Rubio won't say whom he voted for in Miami-Dade mayor's race

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@PatriciaMazzei @alextdaugherty

Marco Rubio is happy to tell voters that he cast his early ballot Monday for himself in Florida's Republican race for U.S. Senate.

But don't ask him which other candidates he selected.

"I'm not going to tell you," he told a Miami Herald reporter who asked him about his choice in the Miami-Dade County mayor's race. "That would be an endorsement."

Later, after casting his ballot at the West Miami Community Center, Rubio continued to stay mum on the non-partisan mayoral contest chiefly between incumbent Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Miami-Dade School Board member Raquel Regalado.

Both are Republicans. Regalado was an early supporter of Rubio's presidential candidacy, while Gimenez endorsed him after rival Jeb Bush ended his campaign. Unlike Rubio, neither Gimenez nor Regalado back Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

"To be honest with you, I know them both. I know them well," Rubio said. "I'm just not going to take a position publicly on that race."

Rubio has endorsed in a far smaller municipal race, for Miami Lakes mayor. He's backing Councilman Manny Cid over incumbent Mayor Michael Pizzi and former Mayor Wayne Slaton.

Photo credit: Roberto Koltun, el Nuevo Herald

August 11, 2016

Trump: 'It means nothing' that Miami Republican politicians aren't backing him

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Miami is a hub of Donald Trump skepticism among Hispanic Republicans. But Trump told the Miami Herald on Thursday that bothers him none.

"You have some friends here in Miami who are Republicans who are not supporting you, including the mayor of the county, who you've golfed with, a couple of members of Congress," the Herald asked him. "What does that say about them?"

Trump responded specifically about Mayor Carlos Gimenez, a Republican seeking re-election to a bipartisan post. Gimenez met with Trump's Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, in Miami on Tuesday. Her campaign has been courting Gimenez's endorsement. Gimenez's son Carlos J. Gimenez is a registered lobbyist in Doral for Trump National Doral golf resort.

"I didn't even know he wasn’t supporting," Trump said of the mayor. "It doesn’t mean anything to me, it means nothing. I did -- when I won the primary system nobody supported me. I was an outsider. I'd rather be an outsider. I didn’t even know the mayor wasn't supporting me. I don't imagine he's not supporting me. Maybe he hasn’t endorsed me, maybe he's got some political reasons. Seems like a nice guy but it makes no difference to me.

"We're going to win. We're going to win Florida, because I'm going to bring back jobs, because I'm going to bring back security. We're going to win Florida. I think we're going to win Florida big."

August 09, 2016

Attack flier ties Miami-Dade mayor to Trump over 'sweetheart' golf proposal



Donald Trump has become fodder in the Miami-Dade County mayor's race, where a political committee backing chief challenger Raquel Regalado is attacking incumbent Carlos Gimenez by linking him to the Republican presidential nominee.

Gimenez is a Republican. So is Regalado. But neither supports Trump. And in blue, Hispanic Miami-Dade, tying a politician to Trump could be politically toxic.

A flier mailed by the pro-Regalado group shows a photograph of a baseball-cap-clad Gimenez walking next to Trump.

"Republicans Carlos Gimenez and Donald Trump must be stopped!" it says. "While Gimenez and Trump were golfing, they schemed a sweetheart deal to give away the county owned Crandon golf course to Trump."

Gimenez and Trump once golfed the county-owned Crandon Park course on Key Biscayne. The New York developer inquired about buying the property. Gimenez said no but suggested a management deal was possible. Trump briefly tried to take over golf course but, facing local political resistance, dropped the attempt before launching his presidential candidacy.

The other side of the flier shows a campaign-finance report record of Trump's $15,000 contribution, on Jan. 26, 2015, to the political committee backing Gimenez, Miami-Dade Residents First.

Continue reading "Attack flier ties Miami-Dade mayor to Trump over 'sweetheart' golf proposal" »

Miami-Dade's Republican mayor isn't endorsing Clinton, but...


Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez is not endorsing Hillary Clinton for president.

But he is meeting her for the first time Tuesday when the Democratic nominee tours Borinquen Health Care Center in Midtown. And his appearance was promoted by the Clinton campaign -- because Gimenez is a Republican.

"Right now, I am the mayor of Miami-Dade County," he told reporters at the clinic ahead of Clinton's arrival. "I'm not going to endorse anybody."

Gimenez is running his own Aug. 30 re-election race. Even if he wins then, he said he doesn't plan to throw his support behind any presidential candidate afterward.

Still, Gimenez made sure to keep a distance from Republican nominee Donald Trump, telling reporter he "hasn't seen" Trump address the mosquito-born Zika virus.

"Trump hasn't been down here, as far as I know," Gimenez said, praising involvement from members of Congress such as U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio (a Republican), Bill Nelson (a Democrat) and Florida Gov. Rick Scott (a Republican). "I'm glad to see that the secretary is worried about it and wants to be informed about it."

That other Republicans have refused to endorse Trump -- or outright backed Clinton -- is "not surprising at all," Gimenez said.

"There are some thing that he has said that have offended Republicans," he said, noting he returned a $15,000 Trump donation to his political committee after one of Trump's early controversial remarks.

Miami-Dade mayor plans to join Clinton on Zika-clinic tour



When Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton tours the Borinquen Health Care Center near Wynwood on Tuesday, she'll have a Republican guest in tow: Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez.

Clinton's campaign invited Gimenez to join her, and he agreed, according to the mayor's office. Clinton plans to push for Congress to approve funding to fight the Zika virus.

The Clinton camp has been trying to win over Gimenez, who backed Jeb Bush and then Marco Rubio for president. Since Rubio's exit from the race, the mayor has stayed out of presidential politics. He's up for re-election Aug. 30; the mayor's position is non-partisan.

Photo credit: Carl Juste, Miami Herald staff

May 30, 2016

Poll: Carlos Gimenez leads Miami-Dade mayor's race but needs to boost Democratic support


Carlos Gimenez holds an 18-percentage-point lead in his re-election bid as Miami-Dade County mayor, according to a new public-opinion poll, but needs to bolster support among traditional Democratic voters to win the non-partisan race outright.

The Republican mayor is ahead of his two rivals who have raised any campaign cash worth noting, found the survey conducted by Associated Industries of Florida, a Tallahassee-based business organization with a premier polling operation.

Gimenez drew 40 percent support in the poll, followed by 22 percent for Miami-Dade School Board member Raquel Regalado and 4 percent for political newcomer Alfred Santamaría. The mayor would need 50 percent-plus-1 in the Aug. 30 election to avoid a November run-off.

Gimenez would have to draw support among Democrats, particularly among African Americans, where his support is weakest. While 54 percent of all voters approve of Gimenez's handling of the job, that number falls to 40 percent among African Americans.

"While only slightly underwater there, his more fragile level of support amongst African Americans is a theme that continued throughout this data set," Ryan Tyson, AIF's director of political operations, wrote in a memo to members. He said several members had asked for a survey of the Miami-Dade race.

Continue reading "Poll: Carlos Gimenez leads Miami-Dade mayor's race but needs to boost Democratic support" »

May 16, 2016

Miami-Dade's GOP mayor won't make presidential endorsement



Miami-Dade County’s highest-ranking Republican in office, Mayor Carlos Gimenez, said Monday he’s staying out of the presidential race and won’t publicly endorse a candidate.

“I’m supporting Carlos Gimenez for Miami-Dade mayor,” he said on the Spanish-language Univision network’s Radio Mambí, a local station.

Host Bernadette Pardo reminded Gimenez that there will also be other races on the ballot. But the mayor, who has golfed with presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, still refused to pick a side.

“I’m not going to make a statement about anything,” he said. “I’m the mayor of Miami-Dade County. I’m focused on being the mayor of Miami-Dade County.

More here.

Photo credit: Patrick Farrell, Miami Herald staff

January 28, 2016

Miami-Dade mayor to Chris Matthews: Your 'Cubans' comment showed 'bigotry'

Gimenez letter@PatriciaMazzei

Note to Chris Matthews: When you dismiss two Republican presidential candidates as "Cubans," the largest Cuban-American community in the country might take offense. Starting with its mayor.

Carlos Gimenez, the Cuban-born Republican mayor of Miami-Dade County, wrote the MSNBC anchor Thursday to object to Matthews' comment earlier this week that Thursday night's GOP primary debate would be boring without Donald Trump.

"Who's going to watch a debate between the two Cuban guys?" Matthews said on his Hardball show Tuesday night.

He was referring to Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. Neither is Gimenez's candidate -- he's backing Jeb Bush -- but the mayor nevertheless told Matthews he was "deeply offended."

"Your comments displayed bigotry and ignorance about nationality and what it means to be an American in the 21st century," Gimenez wrote. "Politics aside, Senators Cruz and Rubio are both highly qualified Presidential candidates. They are Americans. Period. And your questioning of their heritage (American, Hispanic or otherwise) is unbecoming and frankly unacceptable in this day and age -- especially of someone in your position."

Gimenez, who's running for reelection this fall, didn't ask Matthews to respond. Matthews apologized on air Thursday. ("I'm sorry I said it. I mean it," he said.)

"I don't expect you to retract your commentary or apologize," Gimenez concluded, "but I hope that my words have at least made you reconsider your antiquated and appalling remarks."

This post has been updated to note Matthews' apology.