We’ve been robbed. Cheated!

The four biggest cities in Miami-Dade have elections next month without a single mayoral race. Not really anyway. The four frontrunners have zero or marginal opposition. That means there will be no debates, no conversation about the direction of these cities, no real choice for the voters of Miami, Miami Beach, Hialeah and Homestead.

Also the commission or council races and the charter questions on the ballots in those cities will suffer from the lack of any real mayoral contest, which is always the main attraction.

In Miami, Commissioner Francis Suarez is the presumed winner after Commissioner Frank Carollo, who is termed out this year, failed to throw his hat in the ring. Everyone held their breath til the last minute on the qualifying deadine because Carollo was supposed to challenge Baby X. But many political observers speculate that his brother, former mayor Crazy Joe Carollo, le tiro la jarrita de agua fria by jumping into the commission race in Group 3 (more on that later), because it would be harder to get two Carollos on the dais and even if he did, then what? Yeah, sure, there are three others who qualified for the Miami mayoral race but none of them have raised any money or are considered real candidates, so they will go unnamed. Expect Suarez to get 93% of the vote.

In Miami Beach, former State Sen. Dan Gelber gets a free ride thanks to Commissioner Michael Grieco‘s self destruction with the secret PAC that he denied having anything to do with but that is now under investigation by a really selective State Attorney who has seemed to look the other way at far more egregious PAC problems (more on that later). Again, three others qualified, but, again, they will go unnamed because none has raised more than $6,000 (to Gelber’s $500K-plus account) and their names won’t matter after Nov. 7 anyway.

Read related story: Mystery Miami Beach PAC goes down, but new PAC is up

In Hialeah, Mayor Carlos Hernandez is apparently not termed out, as an attorney for former Mayor Julio Martinez had argued in court, trying to boot the admitted loanshark and absentee ballot bully out of the race. Alas, a judge ruled with the city’s warped thinking, which is that a half a term is not to be counted. Getting Hernandez off the ballot was the only way to get him out of City Hall. It was the only chance anyone had. There’s a lady challenging him, but while she’s very brave (her husband is a city employee), she stands zero chance of making a dent in the Hernandez election armor. That means that he can use more money earmarked for needy kids to give his needy staff vacations in Vegas.

And in Homestead, Mayor Jeff Porter — who has brought some stability to the county’s fourth largest city after the last mayor was arrested for corruption — is automatically re-elected de-facto after nobody dared oppose him.


If it hadn’t been for Annette Taddeo‘s win last month over former State Rep. Jose Felix “Pepi” Diaz in the Senate 40 race, this would be the most boring local election year ever.

Not that I don’t like Porter or Baby X or even Sen. Gelber (notice I didn’t include Carlitos because Ladra does, indeed, dislike the Hialeah hoodlum). Those three are all fine gentlemen with good track records, it seems, so far anyway. But I miss the process by which ellos se destacan. I want them to lay out their ideas and defend their positions and plans. You should too.

This just handing them over the seat seems like a bad idea.

It’s also a terrible reflection of our community that we didn’t have more qualified people vying for these important posts.

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It has to be the biggest host committee in formation list that Ladra has ever seen and far too many people to name them all here.

But among the most notable “young professionals” hosting a fundraiser Thursday night for Commissioner Francis Suarez‘s bid for Miami mayor are Congressman Carlos Curbelo, Coral Gables Commissioners Vince Lago, Mike Mena and Frank Quesada (careful with the Sunshine Law, boys), Miami Lakes Mayor Manny Cid, Hialeah Councilman Paul Hernandez, Miami Beach Commissioner Micky Steinberg, Aventura Commissioner Denise Landman, Coral Springs Vice Mayor Dan Daley, State Reps. Nick Duran and Jose Felix Diaz, former State Rep. Marcelo Llorente and even Jebby Bush. Yes, the son of our former guv who ran recently for POTUS. Him. Former State Rep. Erik Fresen was on an earlier version of the host committee, before he pleaded guilty earlier this month to “willfully failing to file a tax return” for one of the nine years he skipped. He has since been conspicuously removed from the list.

There’s also a large contingency of Miami-Dade Carlos Gimenez people, starting with the fundraising guru Brian Goldmeier and including his lobbyist son, C.J. Gimenez, and his wife, Tania Cruz, as well as one-time G-man J.C. Flores.

Throw in Democrat operatives like Christian Ulvert and Ben Pollara rubbing elbows with Republican lobbyists like Michael Cantens and onetime House candidate Daniel Diaz Leyva and former House staffers turned campaigners like Javi Correoso and it’s a huge and rather diverse (read: bipartisan) crowd at the event in Wynwood Walls, the hippest place in Miami for young professionals to be.

Read related story: Francis Suarez says definite maybe to Miami mayoral race

“These are the people cutting their teeth to make the city great today and they are the people who will be making the city great tomorrow,” Suarez told Ladra Wednesday. “These are people who often feel ignored, disenfranchised and dismissed.”

Um, did he see the list? I don’t think the sons of mayors and presidential candidates feel disenfranchised too much.

“It’s important to engage these young people,” Francis Miami Mayoral race“The Future” Suarez added. He is 39 years old, which is three years older than his father was when Miami-Dade Commissioner Xavier Suarez became the first Cuban mayor elected in Miami in 1985. “It’s a generational passing of the baton or turning of the page. The city needs an infusion of youth and enegy and technological know-how. Not every fundraiser has to be a big money event. It is great to incorporate new people.”

The suggested donation for this event is $100, a low ask considering the crowd. But Baby X can afford to low ball. He doesn’t really need the money.

Suarez has raised close to $2.6 million and still has more than $2 million on hand between his campaign account and his political action committee, Miami’s Future. This, despite the fact that he doesn’t really have an opponent. Not yet anyway. Sure, there are three other guys with no name and no money who have filed paperwork that shows they intend to run, but Suarez is not sweating them.

“It’s a minor miracle that I’ve gotten this far without any opposition,” Suarez said. “And it may sound like a cliche but I pray for the best and prepare for the worst. So I’m working very hard, assuming there’s going to be competition.”

The elephant in the room — or not in the room, as it were — is Commissioner Frank Carollo, who is termed out but still hasn’t jumped into the mayoral contest. At least not officially. Political observers think that it becomes less likely with every passing day. But he could surprise everybody. And he is raising money for something. Someone at the Related Companies sent out an email last moth to raise money for Carollo’s re-election campaign until, ooops, a second email made a correction saying it would be for whatever Carollo’s future entails.

In its first month, the brand new PAC that checks were solicited for, United for Good Goverment, raised $107,000, according to the campaign finance report.

Read related story: Beleaguered Francis Suarez drops out of Miami mayoral race

“Frank has to decide what he wants to do,” said Suarez, who abandoned his attempt to run for mayor in 2013 against Mayor Tomas Regalado. after several setbacks by campaign staffers, including two arrests for filling out absentee ballot forms online, a situation that was completely unintentional and that really should have been handled differently by the State Attorney’s Office because nobody was defrauded. “I get along with Frank. We have taken strides not to fall into the same Carollo Suarez dynamic and it’s been positive.”

The other possibility that has been pretty much squashed now is former Miami-Dade School Board Member and county mayoral candidate Raquel Regalado, who is the current Miami mayor’s daughter. While Ladra has been saying for months that she had no interest in running for the city seat, her recent foray into a congressional bid to replace the retiring Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has shut people up — for now anyway.

“If she didn’t have that opportunity, there would be rumors about there still being a possibility,” Suarez acknowledged.

That may free up more “young professionals” who might have been hard-pressed to pick between the two to join host committees.


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