Juan Carlos Zapata, a state representative from the Kendall area, is gunning for Miami-Dade County Commissioner Joe Martinez's job. The legislator is going to be termed out of office in 2010, so he's laying the groundwork for a run at Martinez's seat in 2012.
Already, the first Colombian-American elected to the Florida Legislature has asked the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics if he can continue lobbying county officials while he runs for commissioner. This past March 27, ethics Executive Director Robert Meyers gave Zapata the green light.
According to the county's online lobbyist registration database, Zapata shills for health-care companies Humana Inc. and Vista Health Plans Inc., as well as election software maker SOE Software Corp. Now he can tap his clients for campaign contributions by reminding them of all the great work he is doing on their behalf to win lucrative county contracts.
And he is certainly going to need a lot of moola to take out Martinez, a former Miami-Dade cop who easily raises hundreds of thousands of dollars from developers and firms that rely on his vote.