The Kingmaker

In the soap opera that is Hialeah politics, Herman Echevarria might be poised to supplant Raul Martinez as leading man.

With that, he introduced a beaming Yedra, who raised his arms, basking in cheers from the growing crowd of about 700. As Yedra thanked God, his wife, and the people, Alex Penelas made his way through the throng to the platform.

When Penelas stepped up to the stage, Echevarria hailed him as the next mayor of Dade County. "From my heart," Penelas responded, "I feel deeply that all of you are my family; I'm proud to have you as my family and proud to have your support in the last four years."

Echevarria cautioned that the election still wasn't won, that more work was needed for the big push to the following week's runoff: "I'm not going to eat the victory cake yet," he said, "but shoulder to shoulder, working together with the support of the people of Hialeah, these three candidates are going to win."

And then, despite the fact that he continues to this day to assert that he won't run against Raul Martinez for mayor as long as Martinez is in office, Echevarria added, "God willing, in '97 there will be a surprise for everyone. Gracias, ­y que viva Hialeah!

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