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BEST POLITICIAN Miami 2003 - Julio Robaina

Robaina is a 41-year-old BellSouth service technician who slugged his way up from small-town politics to the state stage in November 2002. Whatever you think of him, he's shown some political savvy along the way. When he ran for mayor of South Miami six years ago he wooed the Police Benevolent Association, whose union muscle and manpower proved essential to victory. Once in office, he made sure not to languish in the parochial shadows. He promptly pushed a law requiring gunlocks on all guns in homes with children. So what if the NRA challenged it and won? Robaina's little city made headlines. In 2002 the National Civic League and Allstate Insurance Co. named South Miami an "All-America City," beating bigger neighbors like Miami Beach. When Carlos Lacasa announced he was vacating his House seat to run for state Senate, Robaina moved in, beating out an opponent in the primary and then taking 86 percent of the vote in the general election. Once in Tallahassee he landed on two important committees, transportation and health care. He's ambitious, young, and likes to mix it up. He'll be around for awhile.

Readers Choice: Alex Penelas

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