In 2011, he brought the Sexy Sax Man to a city commission meeting, pot decriminalization to the debate, and a surprising 23 percent of voters to the polls. Steve Berke, a comedian and YouTube marijuana advocate, came in second to incumbent Matti Herrera Bower in that campaign. Now, with Bower term-limited out of office, he is throwing his name back into the ring.
Berke announced his candidacy in typically unusual fashion, through a Kickstarter campaign meant to fund a documentary about his latest run for office.
Berke says any money he raises for the documentary will be spent separately from his campaign finances. "I'm not worried about any conflicts arising," Berke tells Riptide.
Even though Bower is out, Berke will face a crowded field looking to take her seat. Two political veterans have already filed and raised significant cash: Commissioner Michael Góngora, who has reported more than $125,000, and Commissioner Jerry Libbin, who has raised more than $45,000.
A political newcomer, real estate investor Phil Levine, has also loaned himself $100,000 and already begun running TV adds. (A fourth candidate, David Hundley, has reported less than $500 in fundraising so far.)
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Berke promises to focus this year's campaign on public corruption -- a timely topic in Miami Beach, where arrests have rocked the code enforcement and fire departments.
"I'll be pointing my camera directly at those who attempt to buy their way into power," Berke says. "This year is going to be open season on corruption."