If at first you don’t succeed… David Rivera tries again, in 105

Setting up a GOP primary with Doral councilwoman

No this is not an April Fool’s joke.

Former Congressman Daviddavidrivera “Nine Lives” Rivera is nothing if not persistent.

And you never know where he’s going to turn up next.

Rivera — who lost his congressional seat in 2012 to Joe Garcia and then lost a Republican primary in 2014 to get his seat back then lost his bid to return to the Florida House last year — announced last week that he would run in a different House district: 105, where Rep. Carlos Trujillo is termed out in 2018.

He must think that’s an easier win in Doral than a rematch with State Rep. Robert Asencio, the retired school board cop and public labor advocate who beat Rivera last year in such a tight race that there was a manual recount. Asencio won by a scant 53 votes (originally it was 68 and Ladra has to wonder if a second recount would have found the gap closer). Many political observers were certain we would see a rematch in 2018, as Rivera had said to some of us that Asencio would be there to keep the seat warm, unable to get anything done in a minority.

Read related story: David Rivera collects petition signatures for 2016 state House run

But this week, Rivera filed the paperwork announcing his candidacy in 105, which is an open seat since the incumbent is termed out. He already has an opponent in the primary, however. Doral Councilwoman Ana Maria Rodriguez filed in December and has already raised $12,000.

“A lot of people were asking me what I was going to do after I was termed out in 2018 and I’d like to continue serving,” Rodriguez told Ladra Friday. And she’s not backing off just ’cause King Nine Lives wants his old seat back.

“He has the right to run. I’m kind of surprised he’s running in this district, but he has every right,” AnaMariaDavidRodriguez said, adding that she will keep her campaign clean and positive. They are both Republicans and have been friendly. Both serve on the Miami-Dade Republican Committee. Here they pose for a photo together at the Jose Feliciano concert dinner for Lighthouse for the Blind in 2011. No, it was not a date. That’s her husband, Clemente Canabal, on her right (our left).

“I’m going to be transparent as always and focus on the issues that matter,” Rodriguez told me in a telephone interview after the mother of two had finished washing the dinner dishes at home. “I’m going to run on my merits, on my accomplishments, on my record.”

Read related story: Doral councilman succeeds in ousting clerk — now what?

Among those accomplishments was starting the local conversation about paternal leave. Doral was the first Miami-Dade municipality to pass the parental leave ordinance, sponsored by Rodriguez, that gives employees four weeks paid for childbirth. Other cities have used it as a model.

She was also able to pass a workforce housing ordinance anamarialast year that provides an incentive bonus for developers to build affordable housing in booming Doral.

And, until order was restored in last year’s election results, she was known by many as the “voice of reason” at council meetings — the only elected in Doral not embroiled in some kind of political drama at some point or another. That’s got to be worth something in Tallahassee.

If she wants to go negative, however, the councilwoman has plenty of fodder.

Rivera, who did not return a call and a text message Friday, has been dogged by headlines about an alleged criminal investigation into whether or not he propped up and financed a plantidate against Garcia in 2012. But federal prosecutors have not charged him with anything or questioned him about anything — and the statute of limitations is going to end this year.

So could Rivera finally be able to campaign on something as positive as vindication?