BEST POLITICAL MISCALCULATION

Early last year political novices Vanessa Bravo, Cindy Miel, and Adriana Narvaez announced that they intended to oust three incumbent Hialeah city councilmen. The incumbents were toadies of Mayor for Life Raul Martinez, and so political pundits warned that the ladies would be obliterated by the well-oiled Martinez machine. But after campaigning in every nook and cranny of the county's second-largest city, the newcomers shocked nearly everyone: They trounced the Martinez acolytes at the polls by overwhelming margins. Absentee ballots, however, were another matter. The incumbents somehow managed to attract far more of those than the Hialeah Three. Bravo and Miel ended up winning anyway, but Narvaez lost as a result of the absentee count. (In a lawsuit she is claiming vote fraud; law-enforcement agencies are now investigating.) The ladies' success must have humiliated Martinez, judging from his subsequent behavior. Not a city council meeting now adjourns without him having publicly insulted Bravo and Miel.


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