Miami-Dade mayoral challenger Raquel Regalado is set to expand her labor backing Thursday with endorsements from unions representing police, port workers, and hospital employees, along with the non-profit that has been a leading critic of her opponent: the Pets' Trust.
Her planned announcement event at the Police Benevolent Association's union headquarters in Doral mostly makes official endorsements that campaign watchers already expected. PBA president John Rivera has been a top foe of Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, and Pets' Trust leaders already have been generating anti-Gimenez ads to support Regalado's challenge of the incumbent. Also backing Regalado on Thursday: Miami-Dade's teachers union, which played a key role in her winning the endorsement last month from the AFL-CIO, an umbrella group representing a string of public-sector unions in the county.
The union representing about 5,000 employees at the county-owned Jackson hospital system also is announcing its endorsement of Regalado at the 10 a.m. event. The group was part of the AFL-CIO endorsement announced last month, though that backing did not guarantee member unions would go along. Gimenez later won the endorsements from some AFSCME chapters representing county workers.
Pets Trust group upping its campaign against Carlos Gimenez in 2016 mayoral race. Truck ads coming. pic.twitter.com/XHqOZDZ2ry— Doug Hanks (@doug_hanks) June 30, 2016
Gimenez took office in 2011 on the promise of a property-tax cut, and used austerity budgets to pay for it before rising property values allowed for restored spending and higher worker pay. Union leaders contend years of cuts during the recession and slow recovery have left Miami-Dade short-staffed and unable to provide adequate services.
A Regalado spokeswoman said unions representing private-sector port workers (known as longshoremen), and skilled construction employees (known as craftworkers) also will endorse Regalado. Both are part of the AFL-CIO coalition. Rivera, the police union president, said in a statement that the broad backing shows strong support for Regalado's challenge to Gimenez.
"It is historic for so many groups to unite in such a public way. Raquel Regaldo is committed to providing real solutions to real problems in Miami-Dade County, problems which have been ignored or not given the proper attention under the current administration," Rivera said. "Miami-Dade County deserves better and that is why we are all standing together behind Raquel Regalado."