Banana Republican has a sneaking suspicion that Jenny Nillo is a ringer in an important state Senate race. Nillo is a former legislative aide to state Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla, who can't run again because of term limits. Since last year, Alex's brother Miguel has been locked in a fierce battle with state Rep. Julio Robaina for the Republican Party's nomination in the August primary.
Miguel, a former county commissioner turned lobbyist, has amassed a $444,835 campaign war chest to beat Robaina, a populist legislator known for supporting bills that reformed the way condo associations operate, and vociferously rejecting bills like the one that would have tied teachers' performance to FCAT scores.
Apparently, the Diaz de la Portillas needed a contingency plan. Enter Nillo, a first-time candidate who qualified for the Senate race at 8:32 a.m. this past June 18, the last day for qualifying.
On her Facebook page, she joined the group "Draft Alex Diaz de la Portilla for Congress." She counts Alex and his youngest brother, Renier (a Miami-Dade County School Board member under investigation for using his public office to campaign for Miguel), among her small circle of 47 Facebook friends. So it seems odd she would run against Miguel, unless she's a ringer. Then it makes sense.
Nillo did not respond to a request for comment via the social networking site. She also doesn't list a phone number or email address on her campaign paperwork filed with the state division of elections -- an indication that Nillo has no interest in being contacted about her candidacy.
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Miguel did not return a detailed message left with his secretary at his private law practice. Jose Bermudez, Robaina's campaign manager, agrees that something isn't right about Nillo's candidacy. "Filing to run at the 11th hour does seem disingenuous," he says. "It's typical of how the Diaz de la Portillas operate."