July 25, 2017

Raquel Regalado officially announces run to replace Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

Regalado Congress

@alextdaugherty 

Raquel Regalado is officially joining the race to replace longtime Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who is retiring from Congress next year. 

The former Miami-Dade school board member and candidate for county mayor in 2016 filed her paperwork to compete in the Republican primary against county commissioner Bruno Barreiro on Tuesday morning. Nancy Watkins, a top Florida GOP political accountant based in Tampa, will serve as campaign treasurer. 

Regalado highlighted Miami's affordable housing woes in her announcement video. 

"I'm running for Congress because we cannot afford to live in South Florida, because before we get to any other issue we need better paying jobs" Regalado said. "We can't afford to buy a home. We can't afford to live here. We can't afford to raise our children here. We're at a critical point, we need educated, reasonable, articulate and thoughtful people in Congress."

The 43-year-old daughter of Miami mayor Tomás Regalado can now start fundraising after Barreiro raised $176,000 in the most recent fundraising quarter. Maria Peiro, who unsuccessfully ran against Ros-Lehtinen in the 2016 Republican primary also announced her intentions to run, but has not filed yet. 

Regalado is a self-described moderate Republican seeking election in a Miami-based district that Hillary Clinton won by nearly 20 percentage points over Donald Trump, making it the most Democratic district in the country currently held by a Republican. Ros-Lehtinen's retirement opens up a seat that national Democrats see as a prime pickup opportunity in 2018.

Regalado has a history of bucking the GOP. In 2010, she campaigned for Democrat Alex Sink for governor over Republican Rick Scott before unsuccessfully challenging Miami-Dade mayor Carlos Gimenez, a fellow Republican, for his seat in 2016. She also did not endorse Trump or Clinton in the 2016 election.

A slew of Democrats have announced or are weighing bids for Ros-Lehtinen's seat. 

Correction: A previous version of this most misidentified Regalado's age. She is 43, not 42. 

July 24, 2017

As chaos envelops Venezuela, Caracas spends millions on lobbyists in Washington

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@alextdaugherty

Venezuela’s currency is essentially worthless. Its people are starving. Rampant inflation has rendered the bolívar less useful than toilet paper.

And since Donald Trump’s election, the Venezuelan government has spent at least $1.3 million on Washington lobbyists through its subsidiary Citgo, a Houston-based oil company.

Three Washington-based firms currently represent Venezuela in Washington, pushing Capitol Hill, the White House and Cabinet agencies on issues like “fuel refining” and the “potential impact of U.S. energy policies on CITGO’s operation impacting U.S. consumers,” according to Senate lobbying records.

Caracas sees its investment in lobbyists as a way to fight possible sweeping sanctions targeting Venezuelan oil. Pushed by lawmakers like Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, the White House said last week “all options are on the table” and promised “strong and swift economic actions” ahead of a vote on July 30 that could alter the country’s constitution in favor of President Nicolás Maduro.

“The costs for representation is a drop in the bucket when compared to the potential economic loss” of oil sanctions, said C.J. Gimenez, the son of Miami-Dade mayor Carlos Gimenez and a lobbyist who left Avenue Strategies, a firm started by Donald Trump’s former campaign aides, after the firm decided to pick up Citgo as a client. 

U.S. sanctions on Venezuela’s oil market could have major financial implications for the Maduro regime and for average Venezuelans. Although Venezuelan crude makes up a small fraction — about eight percent in 2016 — of all U.S. oil imports, the U.S. buys nearly half of Venezuela’s oil, and oil revenues account for 95 percent of Venezuela’s export earnings, according to OPEC.

Gimenez said Venezuela’s greatest asset is its oil and that Maduro “uses it to fund his continued existence.”

In order to shore up the Maduro regime’s future in the face of intense pressure, Washington-based lobbying shops, Avenue Strategies, Cornerstone Government Affairs and VantageKnight. All are well connected in the nation’s capital, spending millions on behalf of corporate titans like Google and Citigroup and staffed with former congressional aides who know Capitol Hill.

VantageKnight, a firm started by Democratic strategist and lawyer Manuel Ortiz, spent $540,000 on behalf of Citgo to lobby on the “potential impact of U.S. energy & foreign policy restrictions on CITGO Petroleum Corporation's operations and valuation of assets” and “sanctions related issues” in 2017.

Neither Citgo nor Ortiz responded to requests for comment. An operator at a Houston office for Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, PDVSA, which owns Citgo, hung up when contacted by a reporter.

Citgo is feeling the heat in Washington, where lawmakers have questioned PDVSAs’ pledge of 49.9 percent of its shares in Citgo as collateral for a $1.5 billion loan from the Russian government-owned oil giant Rosneft. That could leave Moscow with indirect control over Citgo’s U.S. energy assets, including three oil refineries, nine pipelines and dozens of petroleum platforms.

Read more here.

July 03, 2017

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez to fundraise for Jose Felix Diaz's senate race

Diazfundraiser

@amysherman1

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez is the special guest at a fundraiser for Rep. Jose Felix Diaz's state senate campaign at the Biltmore Hotel July 18th.

Diaz is running in the July 25th primary for the special election in District 40 created by the resignation of Sen. Frank Artiles

Diaz will face attorney Lorenzo Palomares and former state Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla in the Republican primary.

February 21, 2017

Miami-Dade mayor to take part in Fox News town hall on immigration

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@PatriciaMazzei

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez is in Jacksonville Tuesday to participate in a televised Fox News town hall on immigration.

Gimenez is one of a handful of listed "newsmakers" at the event, including White House Senior Adviser Stephen Miller and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis of Ponte Vedra Beach. Immigration attorneys, law enforcement and an academic will also be on hand.

The mayor gained national attention after directing local jails to fulfill federal immigration detention requests of Miami-Dade inmates following President Trump's executive order threatening to cut funding from cities and counties that didn't fully comply with the feds.

The detention requests are voluntary and non-binding, but Gimenez -- and later, a majority of the county commission -- feared being labeled a "sanctuary" would risk funding for big-ticket public-transportation projects.

Fox will air the town hall, moderated by Martha MacCallum, at 7 p.m.

Photo credit: C.M. Guerrero, Miami Herald

January 28, 2017

Current and former city of Miami mayors chide county for abandoning 'sanctuary' stance

@PatriciaMazzei

The current and former mayors of the city of Miami -- a Republican and a Democrat, respectively -- have publicly chided Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez for directing county jails to comply with federal immigration detention requests following President Donald Trump's crackdown on "sanctuary" jurisdictions for immigrants in the country illegally.

Mayor Tomás Regalado tweeted Friday night that he's "disappointed" by Gimenez's Thursday decision. Regalado also seemed to indicate city cops have no interest in acting as immigration deputies -- something Gimenez insists the county won't be doing either, even as it subsidizes federal detentions. The city doesn't manage any jails of its own.

Several Twitter users, perhaps unaware that the county and city are separate jurisdictions, had apparently confused Regalado with Gimenez, and Regalado responded to them as well.  

Regalado and Gimenez have been at odds politically for decades, most recently when Regalado’s daughter ran last year against Gimenez. When big-city mayors urged then-President-elect Trump last month to protect “DREAMers,” immigrants brought into the country illegally as children, Regalado was quick to offer his support. Gimenez took longer to say he backed President Barack Obama’s program to protect DREAMers from deportation.

 

Separately, former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz wrote in a Miami Herald op-ed that Gimenez, a Republican and Diaz's friend, acted too hastily, without seeking enough legal guidance about Trump's executive order. 

"While other mayors have taken an approach that protects their communities, Mayor Gimenez has rushed into action to please the president, betraying our community’s long history of welcoming immigrants," Diaz wrote.

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He argued that Miami-Dade, which already notifies the feds of all of the people it arrests and is willing to detain them as long as Immigration and Customs Enforcement defrays the expense, already complied with Trump’s order.

Both mayors weighed in after angry protesters demonstrated outside County Hall on Friday, and deluged Gimenez's office with phone calls and emails opposing his directive.

All three mayors -- Diaz, Gimenez and Regalado -- were born in Cuba.

January 25, 2017

Fact-checking Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez's Zika claim

Carlosstateofcountyaldiaz

@amysherman1

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said that in 2016 the county became a global leader in fighting the mosquito-borne Zika virus.

"We were the first community in the world -- let me repeat that -- the first community and I believe the only community in the world to break the cycle of local transmission of the Zika virus," Gimenez said during his State of the County speechJan. 18.

However, Gimenez didn’t declare Zika dead forever -- he warned that the county must remain vigilant: "We may be in the off season, but that does not mean that our work is over."

Gimenez, a Republican re-elected to his last term in November, has a point about local transmission. The last of the four local transmission zones were cleared in Miami-Dade by mid December 2016. However, he omitted some caveats about Zika transmission and Miami-Dade’s special circumstances compared with the rest of the world.

Keep reading from PolitiFact Florida.

September 23, 2016

Can Zika aid bill overcome its DC partisan past?

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@jamesmartinrose

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.


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/latest-news/article103560742.html#storylink=cpy

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.

For more, read here:

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

 


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/latest-news/article103560742.html#storylink=cpy

 

August 29, 2016

What you need to know for Tuesday’s primary election

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@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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@PatriciaMazzei

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."