Last time Raul Martinez ran for elected
office, he got handed his
only and worst defeat of his political career. He was part of a
Democratic tag team that was supposed to topple the Diaz-Balart
oligarchy controlling two of Miami's Hispanic U.S. Congressional
seats. The coup failed miserably and we at New Times had to eat crow after
predicting Martinez was going to obliterate Lincoln Diaz-Balart. It
was the other way around.
But a politician like Martinez can't stay away from the game, especially when his successors have left the city government he ruled in tatters. So he's running again to be Hialeah mayor, a post he held for a quarter century, except for a brief period when he was indicted on public corruption charges that he took bribes from a developer.
He eventually beat the rap, retiring in 2005 when he was termed out - paving the way for then-Hialeah Council President Julio Robaina to take over. It was Martinez's other big political mistake. Now Martinez is looking to correct his error by running against Robaina's chosen one Carlos Hernandez, who was appointed to the position earlier this year when Julio had to give up the seat to run for county mayor.
As expected during any Hialeah election cycle, the race has gotten ugly. Most recently, Martinez exposed Hernandez using internal affairs police detectives to tail him while he visited elderly voters who receive city rent assistance.
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Over the summer, we sat down with Martinez inside his campaign headquarters, where he apologized for backing Robaina as his successor and explains why he loves being Hialeah's mayor.