Among the House races in South Florida this November, one of the most important, despite the little media attention, is the race to replace State Rep. Manny Diaz, Jr. in House District 103.
Why is it important? Because Diaz, the GOP mafia’s pick to run for the Senate seat vacated by Rene Garcia, is one of would be State Rep. Jose Oliva‘s yes men and speaker vote. That seat needs to stay firmly an Oliva vote if he is to have the mighty power next session. How loyal does that person have to be? So much so that Oliva handpicked his very own employee, Miami Lakes Councilman Frank Mingo, an Oliva Cigars supply chain manager, to run for the seat.
He is literally a lackey.
Democrat Cindy Polo, a mom on a mission, could have a real chance against Mingo in the year of the woman on a supposed blue wave. So of course they threw a challenger against her in the primary. This way they can attack her and force her to burn her money in an August contest.
Enter Richard Tapia, the possible plantidate who came out of nowhere. Well, actually, he came out of Kendall, allegedly moving into a Hialeah apartment in the district one day before qualifying on June 20.  Hmmmm. It certainly could look like he moved in just for the race. Or maybe “moved in” is better.
At least he didn’t just become a Democrat. He did that two years ago.
Tapia was a Republican two years ago when he announced a run for a Miami-Dade School Board seat in the Little Havana district. Actually, he’s bounced back and forth a few times but he’s been a Republican more than he’s been a Democrat by at least 12 years.
He seems to have a hard time making up his mind. Tapia was even registered as everything for some time in 2016. He last switched from Republican to Democrat in December of 2016, four months after he dropped out of the school board race. But he went from Democrat to Republican in February that same year and from No Party Affiliation to Democrat in January, only 12 days before that. Talk about indecision. Tapia had switched to NPA from Republican in 2014. But he had been Republican since 2002, when he switched from Democrat in August of that year.
Whew. Yeah, I’m dizzy, too.
Tapia’s bio on Bloomberg says he has provided political strategies to the insurance industry as well as to “candidates seeking public office, achieving the elections of various state representatives, a U.S. Congressman, and a U.S. Senator.” Ladra wonders who those are. Bet they’re Republican. Someone should ask him, because he wouldn’t talk to me. And is that the kind of public servant Miami Lakes wants?
He was also Miami-Dade Commissioner Esteban Bovo‘s appointment to the planning advisory board. Bovo, a died-in-the-wool Republican, is pretty tight with Oliva and would not likely appoint someone who would go against Oliva’s handpicked Diaz successor.
What seems far more likely is that Tapia is a plant, put there solely to smear Cindy and make her spend her money so she is at a disadvantage when it comes to the general. And if Tapia actually wins the primary, which is unlikely but possible, he will not try very hard to win the general. In fact, he may drop out. It wouldn’t be his first time.
This is the same guy who withdrew from the School Board race in 2016 after getting nudged by lobbyist and mayoral son CJ Gimenez, who met with him in a restaurant to talk him out of it. That’s because CJ’s aunt and the mayor’s sister in law, Maria Teresa Rojas, was running for the same seat. How much you wanna bet that Tapia was talked into this race?
Read related: Beware of Carlos Gimenez Jr. at Gables school board forum
Tapia wouldn’t talk about it. Reached over the weekend, he referred all questions to his campaign manager, Absentee Ballot Queen Sasha Tirador, who is known to work principally for Republican candidates. In fact, Ladra cannot remember a single Democrat candidate Sasha has worked with.
Of course, Tirador could just be into it to go against her old partner, David Custin, who works for Mingo and all of Oliva’s flying monkeys. It’s not like she hasn’t been driven by a grudge before.
It didn’t help Tapia’s case that he hung up on Ladra and answered a texted question about his P&Z appointment with “have a great day.” Tapia doesn’t even have to drop out if he wins the primary. He could throw it. He could just suspend his campaign or do something really stupid on purpose to hand Mingo the election. Or he could let it be known that he doesn’t really live in Hialeah.
Meanwhile, Polo seems like the real deal, another mom who got woke by the Parkland school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Senior High in February. She filed her first paperwork for the seat in March.
“I’m not running because it was part of a career plan,” she told Ladra. “It was a necessity.”
Polo, who used to do communications for the MDX Authority, helped found the Northwest Dade Democratic Club almost two years ago and hoped to find someone else to step up. After Parkland, she saw Mingo’s name all by itself and decided that the someone was staring at her in the mirror. She was encourage by many, including former Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas, who gave $500 to her campaign in May, according to state campaign finance reports.
Tapia, she said, called her and asked her to move her race to District 105. Polo said nana nina.
“He might not know what Hialeah girls are made of.”
Polo — who is involved in the area residents’ anti-blasting movement — wants to represent a community she says has been ignored for too long. “No one’s ever knocked on our doors, no one’s ever talked to us. I’ve lived here all my life so I know,” she said. “I want to give a voice to the area.”
See? Not a plant.

Read Full Story

read more