Barack Obama continued his pattern of naming just about everyone from the Clinton administration to his cabinet, while simultaneously leaving Latinos out in the cold by picking Shaun Donovan as his secretary of housing and urban development. But hey, that was our Mayor Manny Diaz's fantasy position! Obama, you tease, we totally thought you were going to take him away from us, and we were all excited ... for him!
Well, there's still a little hope. Diaz could be named to head this so-called White House Office of Urban Policy. If that doesn't pan out, things would be a little awkward, because Diaz at this point has made it painfully clear he'd like to extend his political career beyond being just our mayor. So, Manny, how about that Senate seat?
Now, we know, there are a lot of Riptide readers who can barely
handle Diaz as our mayor, let alone in some position with national
influence, but the 2010 race has changed dramatically in the past
couple of weeks. Some liberals were kind of panting over the idea they could sneak some true progressive into our Senate seat. If only
because Mel Martinez seemed so easily beatable, but now the Democrats
are facing the prospect of facing off against Jeb Bush.
Of course, there's the little matter that Diaz would have to officially
change his registration to Democrat, but that's a technicality. Then
there's the fact that the last time an area mayor, Alex Penelas, ran
for Senate, his candidacy amounted to little more than an also-ran in
the Democratic primary. But Manny could contend against Bush.
For one, he'd heavily cut into this perceived strength Jeb has among Hispanics. He also has the strength of being president of the U.S. Conference
of Mayors (perhaps earning endorsements from some of Florida's big-city mayors), and a string of other acknowledgments, achievements, and accolades.
And let's face it, Florida may be a "Purple State," but our conservatives are a whole lot more conservative than our liberals are
liberal (see Amendment 2 results), with a large segment identifying as moderate. A former independent could do a lot to
shore up the middle-of-the-road voters, especially against Bush, who has
even admitted he's much more conservative than the state as a whole.
There are also these fringe benefits: Diaz wouldn't have to resign before his mayoral term ends, plus he's the only recent non-Anglo male senator from Florida to come from the Republican Party. Florida's Dems would be smart to support a Hispanic for statewide office.
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Just a thought. Manny is by no means our dream senator, but he's a
heck of a lot better than some blue-dog Democrat or, God forbid, Jeb