By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
By Terrence McCoy
By Ryan Yousefi
By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
By Ryan Yousefi
By Kyle Swenson
For some contributors, writing checks to more than one candidate is a family affair. Hotel developers Judith and Woody Weiser contributed to Cancela and Morales, as did developer Craig Robins, his brother Scott, and their father Gerald. "At this juncture," says Craig, "it makes sense for people in the business community to support more than one guy. How do you know who is going to make the runoff?"
When it comes to making it into that runoff election, individual $250 contributions simply aren't enough, which is where political action committees (PACs) come in. Individual donations "are not the only monies going to these campaigns," says FIU's Moreno. "There are PACs out there, other forms of getting things done -- businesses paying for polls. In a lot of ways, [individual contributions] are only two-thirds of the money going into campaigns." Prominent Miami attorney/lobbyist Hank Adorno is one of those who apparently felt his generosity was constrained by the $250 limit for individuals. So he formed three PACs, one each at his offices in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties. Those entities have contributed to Alvarez, Diaz de la Portilla, Morales, and Cancela. (Cancela reportedly returned the money.)
Turning to the same small but active clique of political donors isn't the only financial similarity among the top five candidates. They also tend to employ the even smaller clique of political operatives who perennially hover around Miami-Dade elections. Venture into any of the candidates' war rooms and you'll likely find one of these well-known political strategists and consultants, who make their livings during election season. Diaz de la Portilla's camp, for instance, includes the public-relations firm Wragg & Casas, county hall lobbyists Alfred Balsera, Armando Gutierrez, and Sylvester Lukis, as well as his influential brother, state Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla.
Cancela's brain trust includes marketing executive and Penelas adviser Herman Echevarria as well as politically connected publicist Seth Gordon. Cancela also hired former congresswoman Carrie Meek as a $10,000 consultant to help win support in the black community.
Morales has enlisted a campaign corps featuring Rev. Richard Dunn and Tallahassee-based Democratic Party political consultant Derek Newton. Dunn, a former Miami city commissioner, was paid $23,000 to shore up support among black voters. Newton previously worked as John Kerry's field director in Iowa. To date Morales has paid Newton's company, the November Group, at least $52,000 in consulting fees.
In his first run for political office, former county police director Alvarez turned to Tampa-based Republican Party strategist Adam Goodman, who was a conspicuous player in the 2000 presidential recount. Alvarez later dropped Goodman's company, the Victory Group, and hired as his campaign manager Bob Harrison, a local political veteran with strong Republican ties. - Francisco Alvaradol
What's the best reason people should vote for you?Alvarez:Experience and integrity.
Cancela:It's time for what I call principled leadership at county hall, true principled leadership.
Diaz de la Portilla:Effective leadership on tough issues, with real live resistance and opposition.
Ferré:My experience and the fact that I have a clear vision of what needs to be done in this community
Morales:I think it's the issue of truly embracing unity and bringing people together.
5. They're All White GuysOutside of Miami, people would look at our five leading mayoral candidates and laugh at the notion they're all "white guys." In most other places, Jimmy Morales wouldn't be considered a white guy. Neither would Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, José Cancela, Maurice Ferré, or Carlos Alvarez. Their names alone would identify them to anyone from a place like, say, Fargo, as Hispanic. And Hispanics, to people in Fargo and elsewhere, are minorities. They simply don't qualify as white guys. Even here in Miami, many citizens, including the highly educated, are confused on this subject. But rest assured, our leading candidates are indeed white guys. In that regard they are practically interchangeable. And as explained below, it's also a scientific fact.
To put this in proper perspective, just ask yourself: Where are the Maynard Jacksons? Where are the Coleman Youngs and Tom Bradleys and Andrew Youngs and Harold Washingtons and Kurt Schmokes? For that matter, where are the Dianne Feinsteins and Shirley Franklins and Barbara Boxers and Kay Bailey Hutchisons and Nancy Kassebaums? How about a Carrie Meek or Janet Reno? Our own Katy Sorenson easily could have spiced up this bland and monotonous slate of politicos, but she had the good sense to stay away. The result? White guys. Nothing but white guys.
The situation, however, is even more serious than homogeneous color and gender. Our six mayoral candidates are, in fact, indistinguishable to their very core. Biologists have found that everyone's DNA is nearly identical, whether your skin is black, brown, tan, pink, or white. "When people ask what percentage of genes are shared by all human beings, the answer is usually 99.5 or 99.9 percent," explains Marty Tracey, a professor of biological sciences at Florida International University and a nationally recognized expert in DNA analysis. "There is so much overlap in the underlying DNA that you can't with any degree of certainty look at a person's DNA and say he's black or he's white."