Best Political Coup (2008)

Matti Herrera Bower

Last November, Matti Herrera Bower became the first Hispanic and first woman to be elected mayor of Miami Beach. The retired dental assistant's political roots trace not to some sleazy deal or romantic tryst (remember Alex Daoud?) but to the PTA. She knocked out Simón Cruz, a banker who raised loads more money, with 54 percent of the vote. Tagged the underdog, she pledged to stop overdevelopment and invest in parks and schools. Bower, then a commissioner like Cruz, scored the win in a runoff even after ethnic baiting by the Cruz camp; a flyer showcased her opposition to handing over $10,000 to the Holocaust Memorial after its organizers were late in applying for a grant. An estimated one-third of registered Beach voters are Jewish. An even bigger coup for Bower would be getting more Beach residents to vote. Only 23 percent turned out last fall.