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The campaign operates out of Malone's rented house on Prairie Avenue behind the Miami Beach Golf Club. The ranch-style abode with a small pool is also a boarding house for Malone's rotating roster of international models.
On a recent weekday, Berke sits out back with a bottle of Heineken and talks about his plans. Blond beauties in tight "After Party" T-shirts stroll by.
Berke has released a few well-produced YouTube ads touting his campaign. In the first, he sums up his position: "I'm a comedian, but my platforms, and what I stand for, are no joke," he says over swelling violins. Then he enumerates his pledges — doing a shot of liquor after each promise. (The clip has already garnered almost 100,000 views, and Berke's Twitter account recently topped 10,000 followers). "I don't see humor and politics as being in opposition," he says after pulling up the ad on his iPad. "I can connect with people through humor."
Stone and Berke plan to hold their first major fundraiser March 18. So far, they've filed no campaign disclosure reports. And one of his first big splashes ended in disaster. On March 4, Berke tried to use a slot introducing comedian Bill Burr at the South Beach Comedy Festival to tell some jokes and play up his campaign. Festival organizers weren't amused and kicked him out of the theater.
So what are Berke's chances to beat Bower in the November 1 election? The mayor's strongest demographics — older Hispanics and anti-development activists — were far and away the majority of the 7,500 voters who turned out in 2009 to keep her in office.
But Stone says 30,000 young Beach voters showed up to elect Barack Obama — and few of them came back for the mayoral race. "These guys are going to agree with Steve. If we can get them to the polls, we can beat Matti Bower," he says.
David Custin, a Miami Beach political consultant, disagrees. "Even if he turns out young voters, he'll be lucky to draw even. Bower is really liberal, and young voters usually support her."
One other candidate, Dave Crystal — the owner of a tutoring business — has also filed to run. He has raised a little more than $2,000 and pledges to reform the city's pension system and encourage new business investment. Bower, meanwhile, has reported $1,000 in contributions so far.
As for the reality show, Berke films new segments weekly. He and Malone pitched the idea at January's meeting of National Association of Television Program Executives, which drew more than 5,000 network suits to the Miami Beach Convention Center. He says he's negotiating but won't say with whom.
It's not clear what kind of cash could come with a series. If Comedy Central, for instance, were to bite, Berke and Stone would presumably earn serious salaries as creators and costars. Would they run afoul of campaign financing laws in the process?
"It's a local race, so there's no equal time requirements," Stone says. "Also, Comedy Central or whoever could just classify it as a news show, and there's no problem at all."
Bob Denton Jr., a political science professor at Virginia Tech who wrote a book about the collision of television and campaigning, isn't so sure. "The danger here is that the TV show ends up trivializing the entire electoral process in Miami Beach. What's become of our democracy if you're only running for office to get on TV and make yourself rich?"
Berke and Malone, his campaign manager, lead the way past two unsmiling bouncers into Wall, a new club in the chic W Hotel. The candidate turns and handpicks the chosen ones to follow him inside, like Saint Peter at the gates to Bro Heaven: "Him, him, and him. Her too," Berke says, pointing at anxious faces in line. "I don't know him. OK, her too."
Inside are pulsating lights inlaid in the mirrored walls and two DJs thumping out house beats. It's nearly 2 a.m. A dozen gorgeous women in tight dresses writhe atop Berke and Malone's champagne bottle-studded VIP table. "I love this scene," Berke shouts over the cacophony. "This is Miami Beach, it's — "
Berke stops midsentence as a 30-something man with a flat-brimmed baseball hat struts in, fist-bumps Malone, and grabs a seat. "Dude, that's the guy from Three 6 Mafia!" Berke shouts. Indeed, it's Lord Infamous, cofounder of the Oscar-winning rap group. "All these guys come to our table when they're in town because they know we can get them women. Really, you should hang out longer. All you have to do is wait until 3 a.m. and one of these chicks will be drunk enough to go home with you."
Berke looks thoughtful for a second. "We need a mayor who gets all this," he says, laughing. "This is South Beach!"
just like reagan, a b move actor made it with no experience, so why not berke. just remember he just like all those nazi.s that where elected last year, and who will be out of a job in 2012
His platform is alright. Now the question is keeping all his promises, what consequence is he willing to pay for failing to follow through?
Having been on the beach a very long time, you learn who to stay away from. These three guys and their friends are those people. When you hang with people like this you are judged as an idiot loser. They will use you up and spit you out, seriously, they don't care about anyone but themselves. As for how they treat women is another matter all together ! Girls, if you are hanging out with these guys, you are being pimped out and will eventually get into trouble, Gaurenteed!!! Take it from me, I know first hand.
Oh Brother, now we have the clown with the big red rubber nose trying to replace the clown with the big floppy shoes.
hmm let's see the guy backing him was in on Watergate....I am NOT GOING TO SAY 1 WORD!!! ONLY in Miami.... Can anyone figure out why I moved 1600 miles away???
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Yep this corrupt clown will sodomize the beach taxpayers Republican style- suck them all dry and run off with the $$$$ while he keeps them all laughing...no kiss the next morning. Bunch of idiots WOULD vote for this little weasle!
my son played him numerous times in junior tennis tournaments and he was one of those under constant pressure by his overbearing father - win at all costs. Guess that's what it takes to be a successful politician.
I disagree with you both, Miami has been the capital of corrupt cities since the 1930s, the white, Italians and blacks have been making as stink down here since the beginnings, but Cubans have taken corruption in Miami to its highest possible peaks.