The congressional primary in dielection is too important. So I did something I thought I would never do. I registered as a Democrat.
Ladra has been a deep purple, card-carrying, proud NPA all her adult life. It started as a pragmatic choice by a journalism student who did not want to be linked to either extreme agenda. It ended up being perfectly suited to me since I found issues and problems in both parties that I was just unable to swallow. So I stayed NPA and proudly proclaimed it from every rooftop.
This year, I have already vowed to vote blue up and down the ballot because of Parkland. Yes, a school shooting at a Broward high school that took 17 lives did what LGBT rights and immigration battles, climate change and taxation and energy priorities and even the systematic privatization of what should be public education couldn’t do — it turned me into a single issue voter. After watching the Florida legislature debate gun control in the wake of those deaths at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, I had no choice. Those creeps who said the MSD students didn’t know what they were talking about and put guns in our schools, they need to be voted out. We need a blue majority in Florida.
So, yeah, I am going to vote for the Democratz in November in both my House race (Jeff Solomon has my vote Aug. 28) and Senate District 40.
But I couldn’t wait for November when it comes to congressional District 27, because there is only one Democrat candidate in the primary on Aug. 28 that I know can beat the eventual Republican winner, who is apparently going to be Maria Elvira Salazar — and that’s Miami Beach Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez.
I can hear some of you now saying that I am only doing this because I am a paid campaign staffer. That’s ridiculous. Do the people who worked for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez only support her because they work for her? Do the people on Marco Rubio’s staff secretly wish they could support someone else but are there only because of their paychecks? Shame on you. If you think my vote is worth any amount of money, or that I would change my voter profile from my entire life, you are delusional. This is something I treasure. Nobody can pay for my vote. You have to earn it. And Kristen has. I was always going to vote for her. Rosen Gonzalez only invited me to be part of Team Kristen because I’ve supported her for the three years she’s been in office. Heck, I supported her candidacy two years prior to that, before she withdrew from the 2013 city elections on the Beach. So, yes, I am paid to help her with her messaging and media. But no, I am not paid to support her. I do that for free and happily because of who she is.
What is it about her? A few things.
A single mom, like me, she is the only candidate in the Dem #FL27 primary who has a full time job and lives paycheck to paycheck, like me. She recycles obsessively and drives a hybrid. She walks the walk, not just talks the talk. She is a teacher, with ten years experience as a professor at Miami Dade College and a real intense desire to make community college free for everyone, so higher education becomes a right and not a privilege. She has passed legislation to raise the minimum wage and protect hotel workers from sexual harassment, so she took on the hotel industry in a city that depends on hotels. Sure, she is often unpolished and sometimes says things off the top of her head that she later regrets. I kinda like that about her. Because at least she says something. Her answers are not pat rehearsed and practiced talking points written by someone else. Trust me, sometimes I wish she would stick to my script. She can’t. It is in her nature to be natural. She is the real deal.
She has also been campaigning the longest, having announced a bid for that seat before Ileana Ros-Lehtinen retired. So she was willing to challenge the congresswoman on her own turf. That takes guts. She has something slightly resembling gumption. Nobody else had the nerve. They only jumped in after it was an open seat, which makes them opportunists of a sort.
Most importantly, Kristen is the only candidate in the Democratic primary who speaks Spanish fluently. That is going to become important after Aug. 28 when whoever wins has to battle Salazar for votes in a district that is 73% Hispanic.
Ladra likes Matt Haggman. We worked together at the Miami Herald and he was a fine journalist. But he and his campaign are out of touch with the average voter or resident in my community. Ladra likes former State Rep. David Richardson. Despite his stupid trip to Cuba and the fact that he talks about being the first gay elected to the House like its his only achievement, I think he has good intentions. I love the fact that he took it upon himself to visit state prisons and evaluate their operations as a state legislator.
But neither of them speak Spanish very well. And when pressed to vote for a David Richardson or a Matt Anything against a Maria Elvira Salazar, I fear that a lot of the elderly, high performing voters in the district will go for the name with the Z in it. This is not racism. It’s clarity. Nobody is saying this is how it should be. Just that it is what it is.
And that Gonzalez has two Zs.
There are only a few hours left to change your voter’s registration, if you are an NPA like me and want to vote in the primary. You have to do it before midnight at this website here.
But this message is also or more for those of you already registered as a Democrat: Think about the impact of your August vote in November and don’t throw it away. Think about who would be the best match against the eventual GOP nominee before you cast your ballot. Think about who will best be able to represent the majority of the district, and speak to her constituency in their language.
Then vote for Kristen Rosen Gonzalez.

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Ladra dares Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez to put his committee vote into action and resign his seat now

The open congressional seat thanks to the announced retirement of U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has attracted almost a dozen hopefuls who want to represent us in Washington, D.C.: A whopping 11 candidates have either declared their intentions or opened “exploratory” committees.

This includes five who are already in elected office: Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez, State Rep. David Richardson, Miami Beach Commissioner Kristen Rosen-Gonzalez, Miami-Dade Commissioner Bruno Barreiro and Miami Commissioner Ken Russell. So far, anyway.

One of the wannabes not in office already has a problem with them staying there.

Michael Hepburn, an academic advisor at the University of Miami who Ladra suspects is building name ID for another race, says the “Resign to Run” law that forces electeds to resign one office if they run for a state or local seat should be extended to federal offices, which are exempted from the state statute. These candidates not only cost taxpayers extra, through special elections that could have happened simultaneously with the federal race, they also get a leg up with a bully platform, he said.

Read related story: Bruno Barreiro makes Congress bid official; Dems celebrate

“This exception creates an unfair advantage for the elected official, it’s a conflict of interest, and Floridians should not have to cover the cost associated with creating special elections or continue to cover the salary for these officials — while they use their time on the job to run for another office,” Hepburn said. “This is a democracy and you have every right to run for any political office you deem appropriate. However, if you choose to not honor the term you were elected for – run for another office on your own time.”

“Our aspiring career politicians need to either keep their commitments to the voters that elected them or resign, so someone else can finish the job,” he said, adding that voters he has spoken to agree.

He is right. This exclusion does perpetuate the perception of political stepping stones being used to attain higher office. And you can’t deny the fact that every time Rodriguez or Barreiro or Rosen Gonzalez or the others get free press for doing their job, their congressional campaigns benefit. So they do campaign on our dime and, in fact, could be paying extra attention to issues or neighborhoods that overlap in the district — or even beyond their district or parameters.

These are the reasons why there is proposed legislation that would close the state law loophole — made in 2007 for then-Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, whose name was being floated as a potential VP running mate — and include federal offices in the Resign to Run law.

Read related story: Jose Javier Rodriguez runs for Congress, but it’s not in the bag

Senate Bill 186, introduced by Sen. Travis Hutson (R-Elkton), would require elected candidates who run for federal office where terms overlap to resign at least 10 days before qualifying begins.

And even though it would go against his self interest by requiring him to resign early, Rodriguez voted in favor of the bill in the Ethics and Elections Committee, where it passed unanimously Tuesday.

But here’s an idea — nay, a challenge — for J-Rod, if he really believes electeds like him should resign to run for a congressional seat: Senator, you don’t have to wait until the full legislature votes on the bill next year. There is nothing stopping you from setting the example and resigning now.

If you voted what you believe in, Ladra dares you to put your money (your job) where your mouth (your vote) is.

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Everybody is wondering if the news Thursday that Sen. Gwen Margolis was withdrawing her re-election bid and retiring will cause Andrew Korge to switch seats again to the first one he looked at richardsonmargolisway back before he was a congressional candidate even. Or if it is causing State Rep. David Richardson (D-Miami Beach) to take another look at the Senate run.

Korge, son of Democratic fundraiser and Miami International Airport concessionaire Chris Korge, is currently running against Flores for the Senate seat in District 39 after briefly going after Annette Taddeo in the congressional primary in District 26. But he may go back to his original plan, which was to run for Margolis’ seat before she surprised everyone by saying she would stay put for another term.

Margolis is retiring now, under pressure to apologize for her comment (shouldn’t she still?) in which she dismissively referred to her challengers as “three Haitians, some teacher and some lawyer.”

Read related story: Alex Penelas crowd hosts Andrew Korge’s Senate kick-off

Now, Ladra happens to think that statement is generally true. And it doesn’t have to be a bad thing to be one of three Haitians in a race. There is no other district in which this happens, so there is obviously a significant Haitian electorate in the district. But we know Margolis meant it as a slight. “That’s all they are,” was implied. She is not the most sensitive girl. And it seems she hasn’t learned much since La Gwen got her nickname from Ladra after a spat with Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla over redistricting. He pushed for her district to change due to changes in racial and language minority demographics. She did not want the change and said that Cubans should not be considered a minority.

“The Cubans came in 1960. Believe me, they can speak English,” Margolis said, back then. “They prefer not to, but they do speak English. They went to school in Miami-Dade. Their children go to school in Miami-Dade. They’re English-speaking people.”

Esa es La Gwen. It’s true, but still leaves you a little incredulous. Ah, life and politics was so much easier when there weren’t so many Cubans and Haitians around, right?

Insiders say Margolis had intended to retire after this last term because she was older than dirt, not because she was racist. She was expected to endorse Richardson (D-Miami Beach) but that she got cold feet after Korge, whose daddy can raise a lot of money, got into the race. Both withdrew out of respect to the longtime legislator — a former county commissioner who is also the first female elected Senate President.

So why were there a whole five other Democrats running against her —  the three Haitians and the teacher and the lawyer. Most notably among them is State Rep. Daphne Campbell, who may become the immediate front runner among the wannabes, if only for her name recognition, but not because she has more money. That distinction goes to Jason Pizzo, the attorney of the bunch (a former prosecutor turned land use attorney), who has loaned himself $200,000 for the campaign. The group is rounded out by former State Rep. and radio show host Philip Brutus, who has tried four other times to get back in office (State House, Senate, Congress and county commission), teacher Don Festge and the third Haitian, Anis Blemur, who owns and operates a North Miami accounting firm.

Read related story: Doubletake: David Richardson jumps back to House for 2016

But everybody is wondering if either Korge or Richardson will come back to that race now.

Korge is the obvious choice. He’s lost some key endorsements KorgeFloresto Flores (more on that later) and she’s blowing him away with fundraising (more on that later), so it might make sense to move to an open seat race that is less Hispanic.

Richardson, the first openly-gay representative, might be too comfy in an incumbency where he’s popular. Yes, he wants the Senate and there’s opportunity here. But if he’s still seen as La Gwen’s handpicked successor, her Haitian opponents are going to run with that. Who wants a tainted legacy?

Sure, Richardson — who told Ladra in a text message he would have a response after he returned this week from business in D.C. — does have opposition to his re-election. But former Miami Beach Commissioner Deede Weithorn is trailing way behind in fundraising, which leaves her less money to get her message across and her voters out.

Wait a Miami minute! Maybe DeeDe Weithorn will run for that now open Senate seat. Or maybe her husband, Mark Weithorn, who has run unsuccessfully for state House and for city commission. Ladra has also heard that it is a seat Sen. Dwight Bullard could win more easily if he really wants to stay in office, since he’s going to lose in the primary now to Ana Rivas Logan if he stays put.

Am I crazy or could even Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi ditch a sure loss in the town for this more high profile race.

Wait another Miami minute! What about Annette Taddeo? She’s never switched mid-stream so maybe that’s a winning strategy.

Stay tuned. And let the musical chair melody begin. Because we certainly haven’t heard the last of this.

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