Best Political Comeback Miami 2006 - Charles Burkett
When Charles Burkett ran for Surfside mayor in 2004, he was up against a group of candidates endorsed (and some say handpicked) by Paul Novack, the town's outgoing mayor of twelve years and most powerful political force. The Novack-endorsed slate labeled Burkett, a property owner who restores and resells homes (and manages the money in his massive family trust funds), as a developer and won the close election. Burkett ran again in 2006, and this time he was up against a full-scale smear campaign -- opposition loyalists distributed copies of a paternity suit filed against Burkett to local media and Surfside residents, and termed his ally and commission candidate Howard Weinberg a pornographer; they pointed out that Weinberg (an attorney) represented a triple-X Website in an anti-spamming lawsuit. It's worth noting that the media campaign was waged by both parties, although Burkett, a slick operator by all accounts, tended to let his allies and surrogates distribute paperwork detailing the Novack crew's alleged campaign finance violations. Despite the lost election, the paternity suit and an admitted campaign finance flub, Burkett won in March. "I think people can see through the name-calling," Burkett said. "They're trying to label me a developer, but my campaign platform calls for stricter development controls. Not that I'm calling anyone a liar."