The white house at 4760 Alton Road was hopping with activity this past Monday morning. Parked in front was a white pickup bearing a giant banner advertising the Miami Beach mayoral campaign of William "Bill" Smatt. Going in and out of the house were campaign workers, bearing Smatt tee-shirts, and loading Smatt regalia into the bed of the truck.
For anyone living in Miami Beach, Smatt's campaign signs are unmistakable: most feature the candidate with a massive white beard and white, finger-sized eyebrows, holding a Daschund in each hand and smiling warmly before a backdrop of an unfurling American flag. This reporter, at first glance, assumed it was fake. It is not.
"What's wrong with the picture?" insists campaign manager and longtime friend Virginia Schweikert. "You have to see all the phone calls we got for that, the emails. People loved it. . . to some people he's Moses, to some he's Santa Claus. You know, whatever -- guess you reach that age and you get tired of shaving."
One thing's certain: the pictures are no more improbable than the man in person. As Schweikert and a few others loaded the pickup to head off to the polls for early voting, Smatt came outside to chat with Riptide about his intended mayorship.
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"We gonna bring gambling to Miami Beach, so we can eliminate all property taxes," Smatt announced in a slow Jamaican-accented drawl, smiling cheerfully at the activity around him. "People wants progress on the beach!" Gambling, he says, is his main platform: he also wants Miami Beach to be covered in a network of golf-cart lanes.
Smatt first raised a stir some months ago when he placed a sign outside his house that read, "Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve." Schweikert denies that homophobia is part of his campaign message. "We can't have nude people running around everywhere, that's what his concern was. . . He's not homophobic or anti-gay! He has many friends that are gay! He likes everybody!"
The mayoral candidate is also an author: he almost gave me his book, but was stopped by Schweikert before he could get a copy out of the house. "After the election is time for the book," she told him. It doesn't take much googling to figure out the campaign manager's hesitation: Smatt's book, available on Amazon, is lengthily titled The Messiah: The Chosen One; Republican; Hon. George W. Bush, President of the United States of America, and features a glowing profile of G.W. himself. There are currently no customer reviews - be the first! --Isaiah Thompson