For one brief moment, it appeared the congressional race to replace retiring GOP Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in her central-Miami district would be boring. The Republican candidates, led by the charismatic-as-a-rock Miami-Dade Commissioner Bruno Barreiro, couldn't scrape together 10 cents among them. Eight Democrats, meanwhile, were fighting for airtime in an extremely crowded primary race — some competent, others milquetoast, and none obvious winners.
But how silly we all were! This is a major congressional race in Miami, which means something weird would happen. Enter Angie Chirino, an accomplished songwriter and the daughter of Cuban pop sensation Willy Chirino. She quietly filed federal paperwork January 3 to run for Ros-Lehtinen's seat as a Republican. She also bought the website chirinoforcongress.com, which currently displays a blank page.
The elder Chirino yesterday teased that one of his family members is preparing to run, but he refused to say who: He announced on Facebook that a relative, male or female, would announce a run for Congress next week at Versailles, Little Havana's most famous restaurant:
"My friends, please listen to this message and talk to your friends on the networks," he wrote on Facebook yesterday morning. "I hope next
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Angie Chirino is a successful songwriter. She's won a Latin Grammy and worked with Jennifer Lopez, Gloria Estefan, Celia Cruz, and Marc Anthony, perhaps most notably on his megahit "I Need to Know."
More recently, she sang alongside her two sisters at Jeb Bush's 2016 presidential campaign kickoff at Miami Dade College, which is a stink that might never wash off. It being a Jeb! 2016 campaign event, the performance was plagued by technical difficulties. Willy Chirino and his wife, fellow Cuban musician Lissette, then joined the performance to sing the National Anthem.
Just last week, multiple GOP insiders complained to the Miami Herald that hope seems to be lost already in District 27. Barreiro is most famous for pushing the disastrous Marlins Park deal onto taxpayers. His main competition, Bettina Rodriguez Aguilera, believes she was abducted by aliens.
Plus, in what looks to be a Democratic-wave election spurred by anti-Trump sentiment, most observers expect the more Democratic areas of the district in Miami Beach and downtown Miami to come out strong over the area's elder, stalwartly Republican Cuban population. GOP fundraising has been anemic. Raquel Regalado, school board member and daughter of former Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado, recently dropped out of the Republican primary for the seat, telling the Herald that the "seat is now going to go to the Democrats."
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It's unclear exactly what experience Angie Chirino has in politics, but she at least lends the Republicans Trumpian name recognition.
In the meantime, it looks like Willy Chirino was hanging out with Ros-Lehtinen at the bargain salon Hair Cuttery last week, raising way more questions than answers:
Why would these two just randomly run into each other two days after Chirino's daughter filed paperwork to replace Ros-Lehtinen in Congress? Does Willy Chirino get his hair cut at Hair Cuttery? Does Ros-Lehtinen? Who cares who's even running for Congress anymore?