Last week, the New York Times dropped an election-season bombshell: Marco Rubio and his wife, Jeanette, have gotten a few traffic tickets over the years in Miami. The horror! The story has been universally lampooned, with conservatives questioning whether the Times took the traffic info from a liberal opposition research group and Rubio using the piece as a fundraiser with the mocking hashtag #rubiocrimespree.
Over the weekend, Rubio addressed the Times piece in a brief interview with MSNBC — and may have hit upon his most popular campaign topic yet for South Florida voters. He blamed the tickets in part on South Florida's ubiquitous red-light cameras and called them an outright "scam."
“Let me just say, I really don’t like red-light cameras,” Rubio told the cable news network. “That’s a big scam. But that’s another topic for another day.”
Red-light cameras began popping up around the Sunshine state in 2010, and almost immediately generated legal challenges. A Tampa TV station soon discovered that cities had rigged their yellow lights, shortening the cycles to nab more drivers in the intersections. State judges, meanwhile, have repeatedly ruled that it's illegal for cities to rely on private companies to issue tickets from the camera systems, with the State Supreme Court affirming just last month that Hollywood's program violated the law.
But none of those scandals and court losses have slowed red-light cameras' roll through Florida. Last month, Pinecrest announced it was jumping on board and installing the devices along South Dixie Highway. With millions in revenue pouring in, more municipalities are sure to follow suit.
That is, unless a presidential candidate were to go full Howard Beale on the cameras. Come on, Marco. Drop the conservative pandering, the anti-gay marriage rhetoric and the chicken hawk routine. You've finally found an issue Miami will back you on 110 percent.
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