January 07, 2016

Ted Cruz campaign asks Miami-Dade GOP not to punish supporter

FullSizeRender (15)@PatriciaMazzei

Ted Cruz's campaign has stepped in on behalf of the Miami-Dade County Republican Party vice-chairman who may get the boot for publicly endorsing the Texas senator for president.

Ahead of Thursday night's expected effort to oust Manny Roman from his local Republican Executive Committee position, Cruz political director Mark Campbell sent Miami-Dade GOP Chairman Nelson Diaz a letter asking him not to hold the vote.

"This motion is nothing more than a blatant political attack aimed at stifling the growing support for Ted Cruz in Florida," Campbell wrote. "This act flies in the face of the principles of the Republican Party."

The letter was first reported by the conservative blog The Shark Tank.

Campbell also takes a shot at Cruz rival Marco Rubio, suggesting Rubio would prefer to give "free speech rights" to immigrants in the country illegally than to Miami-Dade Republicans for Cruz. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects free speech before the government, but says nothing about political parties setting their own endorsement rules.

The more pertinent question is whether the Florida Republican Party of Florida rules do in fact ban Roman from taking a public position.

A vote on Roman's future is scheduled for Thursday evening's Miami-Dade GOP meeting, which will likely be held behind closed doors. Roman supporters plan to rally outside.

Miami-Dade pursuing ferry service to Cuba from PortMiami

@doug_hanks @newsbysmiley

The largely undeveloped plot of land at PortMiami where David Beckham once wanted a soccer stadium is poised to test just how much the politics of Cuba have changed in Miami. County officials want to transform the waterfront property into a bustling terminal for ferries running between Miami and Cuba.

The initiative could position Miami as the prime jumping-off point for a fledgling ferry industry that hopes to provide affordable travel and shipping between the longtime enemies. And it marks a milestone for the administration of Mayor Carlos Gimenez, which until now has not openly pursued economic opportunities with a country whose outlaw status has long been an axiom of local politics.

“We need to be prepared for when the situation is here, when the business is ready to launch,” port director Juan Kuryla said Wednesday. “We anticipate it’s going to be a flourishing business here in Miami.”

PortMiami isn’t the only Florida port interested in Cuba ferry service amid a dramatic warming of diplomacy and expansion of commerce between the U.S. and Cuba. Ferry companies also have talked about launching Florida-Cuba ferries from Key West, Port Everglades and Port Manatee on Florida’s west coast.

A new terminal for Cuba-bound ferries would go on the port’s southwest corner, a waterfront wedge of largely undeveloped land that overlooks downtown Miami and lately has been one of the most controversial pieces of county real estate.

More here

January 06, 2016

Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez considering run against Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla


10248871Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez, D-Miami, is weighing a run for Florida Senate against incumbent Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami.

Rodriguez confirmed his interest in the seat Wednesday after news broke that Sen. Gwen Margolis, D-Coconut Grove, plans to move north to run for re-election in a more solidly Democratic district. He has not yet filed for the seat or made a final decision about whether to run, he said, but it’s something he’s putting a lot of thought into and talking to his family about.

“When you’re considering it, you’re also sort of preparing for it,” Rodriguez said. “This is a unique and fresh opportunity to be able to continue representing these communities but in a different form where hopefully I can have a bigger impact fighting for them.”

All of his current House district is inside the boundaries of Senate District 37, created in a court ruling last week as part of a redistricting trial over the state Senate maps. After the auditor general randomly selected district numbers Tuesday, current and would-be lawmakers started scrambling for open seats, particularly in areas where two or more sitting senators were drawn into a district together, as in 37.

“It’s something I’ve been literally studying for less than 48 hours,” Rodriguez said.

The new district is heavily Hispanic and leans Democratic. In 2012, it elected Barack Obama with 53.6 percent of the vote. That could be helpful in taking on Diaz de la Portilla, a member of one of the area’s most prominent political families.

Rodriguez has challenged members of the family before. In his first election for the House in 2012, he beat Alex Diaz de la Portilla, himself a former senator.

The new district maps need to be affirmed by the Florida Supreme Court, and the Senate still has the option to appeal.

Bizarre video is first attack in 2017 Miami mayoral election


Miami Commissioner Francis Suarez received a lump of campaign coal in his social media stocking this holiday season when someone anonymously launched a nasty political campaign on Christmas Eve against the second-term commissioner, who is leaning toward a run for mayor in 2017.

Using the account @anybodybutfranc -- Francis wouldn't fit the platform's character limit -- someone rolled out a bizarre, four-minute YouTube video imploring Miami to vote for "Anybody but Francis." The amateurish clip -- complete with slideshow images of Suarez, a skull, and camouflaged soldiers wielding computer keyboards -- is the first attack in what figures to be a long, bruising bid to claim an open seat in two years.

"In the coming year I'm going to be very vocal letting you know who Francis Suarez really is and what he really stands for," the unnamed narrator says. "Soon we'll have Anybody But Francis bumper stickers available!"

Continue reading "Bizarre video is first attack in 2017 Miami mayoral election" »

Miami-Dade commission chairman not running for mayor, says head of Florida Democrats


The head of Florida's Democratic Party said Wednesday that Jean Monestime, chairman of the Miami-Dade County Commission, has "ruled out" a challenge to Mayor Carlos Gimenez in 2016. 

The statement follows a week of speculation after word spread that Monestime, the first Haitian-American to lead the commission, was being recruited by state Democrats to run for mayor of Florida's largest county. Democrats heavily outnumber Republicans in Miami-Dade, leading to frustration by state Democrats that Gimenez, a Republican, so far faces no Democratic challenger.

"Jean is a fabulous future leader," Allison Tant, chairwoman of the Florida Democratic Party said Wednesday morning. "I don't know that it's going to work out for him now...I do think he has ruled out a run."

Tant she was told Tuesday night that Monestime would not run for mayor of Miami-Dade, after a week of pressure from Gimenez's Democratic supporters among county lobbyists and others not to challenge the incumbent mayor. Monestime has not responded to interview requests since talk of a potential mayoral campaign began last week. Tant declined to say how she learned Monestime was not running, but it was state Democrats leading the charge for his potential bid.

Democrats hoped to recruit a Miami-Dade Democrat to challenge Gimenez, saying there was a path to victory if their candidate pushed Gimenez into a November run-off during the presidential election, when Democratic turnout will be particularly high. The mayor's office is a non-partisan post, and all candidates first face an Aug. 30 primary where a single candidate can win with more than 50 percent of the vote. Without a majority winner, the top two finishers head for the run-off on Election Day. 

"This is a conversation we need to be having" in Miami-Dade, Tant said of the possibility of a Democratic mayoral candidate. On Monestime, she said: "He has led the way on this conversation."

January 05, 2016

A look at the David Beckham stadium that might have been -- and still could be


It took us a bit, but Naked Politics can now share the slideshow David Beckham's team presented at its first town hall on plans for a soccer stadium in Miami. 

That presentation from the Dec. 17 town hall in Overtown contained a tantalizing image: an architectural rendering of a partially-enclosed stadium on the site where Beckham and investors want to build their privately-financed home for Major League Soccer. Tim Leiweke, the Beckham partner heading up the Miami project, said the rendering came from the group's previous plans to build the stadium next to Marlins Park in Little Havana -- an effort that broke down late last year. 

Beckham stadium  rendering

During the packed town hall, Leiweke said the group used the rendering to show that such a stadium could fit on the two-block site in Overtown now targeted by the soccer star.

It appeared to be the first time the rendering was made public (Beckham spokesman Tadd Schwartz said Tuesday he did not think the rendering had been released before the meeting) and so it quickly got attention from the assembled media and soccer fans.  Beckham aides declined to make the rendering, or accompanying presentation, immediately available when a reporter asked for it.

But with the event a public meeting, the Beckham group recently turned over the electronic document to the Miami-Dade Clerk's Office. Naked Politics had a request in to the county for the presentation, and it was delivered Tuesday. 

Continue reading "A look at the David Beckham stadium that might have been -- and still could be" »

January 04, 2016

GOP faction defends Miami-Dade vice-chair who drew party ire for publicly endorsing Ted Cruz


The Miami-Dade County Republican Party official embroiled in an internecine feud over his endorsement of Ted Cruz for president is gearing up to fight his colleagues' push to oust him from his position.

Manny Roman, the party's vice-chairman, has drawn the support of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Florida, a libertarian-leaning group within the state party. Liberty Caucus Chairman Bob White said in a statement late Sunday that he wrote Republican Party of Florida Chairman Blaise Ingoglia urging him to put an end to a planned Miami-Dade vote Thursday to remove Roman from his post for publicly taking sides in the GOP presidential primary.

"The charge is that the vice chairman violated a rule that party leaders must remain neutral in primaries," White wrote. "We both know there is no such rule; certainly not an RPOF rule and I understand there is no Dade county rule either."

RPOF spokesman Wadi Gaitan did not comment.

Roman wrote in a letter to the Miami Herald editor last month that he would back Cruz, the Texas senator, over local favorites Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. Angry local Republicans swiftly moved to schedule a vote against Roman, citing a loyalty oath required from party members that prohibits officers from endorsing one Republican over another.

That hasn't stopped party executive committee members across the state from getting involved in GOP presidential campaigns. White noted Donald Trump's Florida campaign chairman Joe Grueters also heads the Sarasota County GOP. Roman pointed out that Miami-Dade GOP recording secretary Corey Breier is one of Rubio's Miami-Dade campaign chairmen.

Continue reading "GOP faction defends Miami-Dade vice-chair who drew party ire for publicly endorsing Ted Cruz" »

December 31, 2015

Miami-Dade commissioner draws old 'nemesis' as a challenger for 2016


Miami-Dade Commissioner Audrey Edmonson appears to have garnered the first competitive commission race of the 2016 cycle. 

The two-term commissioner drew a challenge for her District 3 seat this week from former El Portal Mayor Daisy Black, a old rival of Edmonson's from her days in that city's political leadership. "She was my nemesis," Edmonson said. Black was not immediately available for comment Thursday.

With Mayor Carlos Gimenez, County Clerk Harvey Ruvin and seven of the county's 13 commissioners up for reelection next year, 2016 has the potential to be particularly busy for politics on the county level. But so far, no commissioner has received a challenger who has held elected office already or begun to raise money.

District 9's Dennis Moss has two filed challengers: Earl Beaver, a restaurateur, and Rubin Young, who is also running against Ruvin at the same time. Former pharmaceutical salesman Felix Lorenzo, who described himself as an anti-incorporation advocate to the Political Cortadito blog, is running his first race against District 11 Commissioner Juan C. Zapata.   

For Edmonson, 2016 is bringing a challenger who has both name recognition and a track record of winning local office. A longtime council member at El Portal, Black was elected mayor in 2010 but lost a 2014 reelection bid to the city's current mayor, Claudia Cubillos

Continue reading "Miami-Dade commissioner draws old 'nemesis' as a challenger for 2016" »

Amid party feud, Ted Cruz plays political chess with Miami-Dade GOP



The Miami-Dade Republican Party is feuding with an executive board member who publicly endorsed Ted Cruz for president. So what does Cruz's campaign do?

It accepts an invitation from the local GOP to speak at its annual Lincoln Day dinner fundraiser in 2016.

The Cruz campaign received a letter dated Dec. 16 from Miami-Dade GOP Chairman Nelson Diaz asking the Texas senator to the fundraiser, planned for sometime in mid-to-late May.

"We are currently planning the Republican Party of Miami-Dade County's 68th Annual Lincoln Day Dinner and would be honored to have a Republican presidential candidate as the Keynote Speaker of the evening," the letter says. "As a passionate supporter of the Constitution and freedom in America, you are well suited to address this crowd of hard working Republicans eager to elect a Republican president."

"He has accepted the invitation," Cruz spokesman Rick Tyler said in an email Thursday to the Miami Herald.

Diaz said he's unaware of any RSVPs yet to the invitation he sent all Republican presidential candidates. The party's board will meet after the end of January to see which ones have responded and which ones they'll actually schedule for the dinner, which will take place late enough in the year that some of them may not be contenders anymore.

Cruz packed the house as the keynote speaker in 2014. But when party vice-chairman Manny Roman announced in a letter to the Herald editor last week that he was backing Cruz, Roman caused an intra-party polemic over whether he had broken GOP officer rules. Roman counters he's been singled out because he's not supporting Cruz's local rivals, Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio. The party plans to vote next week on whether Roman should be removed from his post.

With that dispute still unresolved, Cruz accepted the party's fundraiser invitation -- making it difficult for the GOP to ultimately turn him down. If it does, the Cruz campaign might then argue that Miami Republicans are biased against candidates not named Rubio or Bush -- the precise point Roman has been making.

Photo credit: J Pat Carter, Associated Press

Miami Republican to court donors at Monday's Heat game


State Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami, plans to host a fundraiser for an upcoming state Senate run during Monday's Miami Heat game at American Airlines Arena.

According to an email invitation to the event, Fresen is hosting a suite during the game against the Indiana Pacers with entrance costing $5,000 for one ticket or $10,000 for three tickets.  Download Fresen-Heat Game

Individual or corporate donations to candidate committees are limited to $1,000, under Florida law. However, Fresen also has a political committee, "Floridians for a Strong 67," where he's raising money as well.

Guests at Fresen's fundraiser are asked to make contributions to "Erik Fresen Campaign."

Fresen started raising money in July toward a 2018 bid for the state Senate seat currently held by Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, who would ordinarily have been termed out that year from seeking re-election.

But with new Senate districts finalized in a court ruling yesterday, some sitting lawmakers and future Senate contenders are re-evaluating their options. All 40 Senate seats will be on the ballot in 2016, with a lottery deciding which seats will be for initial two-year terms or for four-year terms.

Fresen, chairman of the House education budget committee, cannot run for his House seat again because of term limits. He told the Herald/Times on Thursday that he plans to run for the new District 35 whenever Diaz de la Portilla either is term-limited or chooses not to seek re-election. Fresen and Diaz de la Portilla both live within that new district, as does Sen. Gwen Margolis, D-Miami.

"I would never run against my good friend, Sen. Diaz de la Portilla," Fresen said via text message. "He represents our district very well. I will, however be running for the new District 35 whenever it becomes open and/or he is not running."

With all seats on the ballot next year and depending on the term set for the new District 35, Diaz de la Portilla could pursue another two or four years in office -- scenarios that could affect which election Fresen will target his ongoing fundraising efforts.