It Boy Out: Fabian Basabe Disqualified From Miami Beach Commission Race

Fabian Basabe will not be on the November 2 Miami Beach City Commission ballot.
Fabian Basabe will not be on the November 2 Miami Beach City Commission ballot. Image courtesy of Fabian Basabe
Fabian Basabe, former "it" boy socialite turned Miami Beach City Commission hopeful, will not be on the November 2 ballot, a Miami-Dade Circuit Court judge has ruled.

Basabe was challenging incumbent Group 2 commissioner Mark Samuelian, who now automatically wins the seat by default.

A lawsuit recently filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court challenged the legality of Basabe's candidacy, citing the would-be candidate's recent voter-registration address in Bay Harbor Islands. The plaintiff is one of Samuelian's supporters (Miami Beach resident Jo Manning) who happens to be represented by Samuelian's campaign attorney, Juan-Carlos Planas.

According to the City of Miami Beach Charter, in order to qualify, a candidate must "reside within the City at least one year prior to qualifying...." Basabe had changed his registration from nearby Bay Harbor Islands in July of 2021.

He said he'd changed his registration to reflect his Miami Beach residence, where he has lived on and off with his wife and son since 2008. He admitted that he did vote in the 2020 general election in Bay Harbor Islands.

In a virtual hearing on Thursday afternoon, a judge sided with Manning and ruled that Basabe was, indeed, ineligible to run, disqualifying him from the race.

"There was no intent to do anything incorrectly," Basabe told New Times when reached for his reaction to the verdict. "This is why I’m not upset right now: The people I have engaged with in the last few months — they really connected with me."

Basabe had originally filed to run in Group 1, which with four candidates is among the most crowded and hotly contested seats on the November ballot. But prior to the September 10 deadline, he opted to switch to Group 2 to attempt to unseat Samuelian. (In Miami Beach, commission seats are not defined by geography.)

He said the suit was a blatant attempt to prevent him from running because he switched groups.

"This is not just an attack on me," he had previously declared, "but our democracy."

Basabe first twirled onto the political scene when he was photographed grinding with the then-President George W. Bush’s daughter, Barbara Bush, at a New York City club in 2004.

Basabe was hailed as the "male Paris Hilton," often caught cavorting in New York's most popular nightspots with the city's young, rich, and famous. He was featured alongside the Olsen twins and Nicole Richie in an installment of E! Entertainment's aptly titled Young, Rich and Famous in 2003 and appeared on the reality TV show Filthy Rich: Cattle Drive, which followed him as he attempted hard labor on a Colorado cattle ranch.

In a letter to his supporters Friday evening, Basabe wrote, "Today was humbling, but this tremendously pales in comparison to how humbling it was to know that so many people believe in me and support me."

Basabe says he intends to vie for a commission seat in 2023.
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Michael Majchrowicz is a staff writer at Miami New Times. He studied journalism at Indiana University and has reported for PolitiFact, The New York Times, Washington Post and Tampa Bay Times.