Who is Justin Lamar Sternad? The local Democratic establishment doesn't seem to know, but he is running in the District 26 Democratic primary for the chance to take on controversial Republican Congressman David Rivera. Though, Sternad has nothing bad to say about Rivera. Oddly, he's using right-wing talking points to attack Joe Garcia, the presumed leader in the Democratic primary. He's also used President Obama's iconic big O election logo in campaign material, but the president's campaign will now ask him to stop using the mark.
Not a whole lot is known about Sternad. He's never run for office before, and hasn't been noticeably active in politics. He's a night time employee of the Wyndham Garden hotel in South Beach, and describes himself as a "hotel administrator." Despite being a white guy named Justin, he's prominently using his middle name Lamar, a name prevalent among African Americans, in his campaign. Broken links at the bottom of VoteLamar.com link to now deleted Twitter and Facebook accounts that use the name Justin. JustinSternadforCongress.com now redirects to VoteLamar.com. Odd.
Despite raising little money and having little name recognition, CBS4 decided it would be a good idea to subject him to a lengthy interview back in May. So far it's been Sternad's most prominent campaign appearance. He's been a no-show at forums. When host Eliott Rodriguez asked Sternad about Rivera, he sidestepped the question and instead took the opportunity to attack Joe Garcia.
"It would be pretty pretentious or arrogant of me to start going after David Rivera's jugular like one of the other candidates, Joe Garcia, is doing," he said. "He's mudslinging. And I want to get through the primary. And then we'll tackle David when we get to that point. Right now, I see the problem with Joe Garcia is he's a three-time loser. He hasn't won anything. One-two-three, you're out. But in his case I think he thinks one-two-three he's in."
The Miami Herald's Naked Politics have gotten a hold of several of Sternad's campaign fliers, and a lot of them appear to be slinging mud directly at Joe Garcia, and also mix in some right wing talking points. He wants to make English the official language, and advocates for strong border control.
"Lamar is as American as Apple Pie," one mailer says. "Lamar Sternad is the only Democratic candidate that was born and raised in the United states. He will advocate for English as our official language. Americans in Florida are being discriminated against by employers who hire illegal immigrants and take jobs away from our law-abiding citizens."
Joe Garcia, by the way, was born and raised in the United States.
Another flyer compares Garcia to Newt Gingrich and John Edwards. "Just like John Edwards and Newt Gingrich, Joe Garcia abandoned his wife as she was battling cancer," says the flyer. Interestingly Rivera has brought up Garcia's divorce as well. Though, according to The Herald, Garcia's wife was actually the one to file for divorce, and has since contributed and hosted a fundraiser for her ex-husband's campaign.
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A Garcia spokesman told the Herald that Sternad's campaign appears to be little more than another dirty trick by David Rivera." Rivera's campaign replies that Garcia has "obviously becoming unhinged and delusional."
So what's going on? No one really knows, but apparently the Obama campaign is none to pleased that one of Sternad's fliers prominently featured his "O" logo, and tells Naked Politics that they will ask Sternad to stop using the logo.
Perhaps tellingly, Sternad himself has remained silent, and has not been keeping up with proper campaign finance reports.