Statewide, Florida voters mostly did themselves proud yesterday. They rejected terminal blowhards Carlos Beruff, Dan Bongino, and Alan Grayson and backed a common-sense solar power amendment. Our Jacksonville friends even booted longtime Democratic Rep. Corrine Brown, who is under indictment on corruption charges.
So what exactly were Republicans in Southwest Miami-Dade smoking last night? Amid all of that good judgment, GOP voters in House District 188 decided to back David Rivera in their primary.
Yes, that's the same David Rivera who has dodged two federal indictments, is the subject of another ongoing criminal probe, has been fined $58,000 by the state ethics board, and is generally such a huge embarrassment that his old friend Marco Rubio won't even be seen in the same zip code.
Even in Florida, there's never been a political comeback quite like what Rivera pulled off last night. GOP voters in the district, which covers a swath of Miami-Dade from Tamiami through Kendale Lakes into Richmond, gave Rivera a narrow win over businessman Anthony Rodriguez. Rivera won by only 187 votes, nabbing 36.03 percent of votes to Rodriguez's 34.03.
Apparently, those voters were totally cool with a political resumé that would make Frank Underwood curl into the fetal position.
Rivera spent eight years in Tallahassee, where the rep was best known for being BFFs with Rubio, who had rocketed to stardom as a young speaker of the Florida House. Rubio and Rivera even shared a Tally house together.
As Rubio rose to national stardom, Rivera was plagued by never-ending scandals. He was accused of lying about working for USAID, purposely crashing into a mail truck carrying his opponent's attack ads, and taking a secret $500,000 payment from a dog track. None of it stuck, though, and Rivera won a U.S. House seat in 2010.
He would last only one term in Congress, though. Rivera landed in hot water again, this time over accusations that he had cooked up a plot to run a fake Democrat in a primary race to derail his opponent. Rivera's on-again, off-again girlfriend and the fake candidate were both charged in the scheme, but despite being named as a co-conspirator in court, Rivera has yet to be charged in that case.
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That investigation, however, is still technically ongoing. It's not Rivera's only headache. Last year, the Florida Commission on Ethics slammed him with a $58,000 fine for ripping off taxpayers. For four years, the Commission found, he had double-billed the state for travel he had already paid using his political funds.
Rivera is still fighting that fine. In March, his sometimes-girlfriend — self-described "Republican bad girl" Ana Aliegro — accused Rivera of battering her and refusing to leave her home. Police later cleared him in that case.
Now he'll have a legit shot at winning another political office.
He'll face Democrat Robert Asencio, a retired Miami-Dade County Public Schools Police captain, in the November general election.