Oh, here we go. Luke endorses Robaina, and when he gets blowback, he says probably the most unfortunate thing he could say.
Faced with rumors that he might have gotten “something” (Team Carlos Gimenez leaves the details, and the smearing, to your imagination) for his endorsement of Julio Robaina for Miami-Dade mayor, Luther Campbell tried to justify the switch from Carlos Gimenez (who was left at the endorsement altar the day before) by saying Robaina was willing to hire his friend, Miami Dade Schools operations director and longtime community activist Pierre Rutledge, to run a new economic development agency to help black businesses get county contracts. And he said it on tape:
Problem? That’s illegal, man.
Cue the complaint:
Campbell’s comments to the Miami New Times, where he writes a column, raised eyebrows in political circles — and led to a complaint against Robaina being filed with the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office.
State law stipulates that candidates be disqualified to hold office if they promise to appoint anyone to a position if elected.
… Darrin McGillis, a past candidate for public office, submitted a letter Friday to Joe Centorino, the chief of the public corruption unit for the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office, asking for a probe into Campbell’s remarks.
“The conduct of Julio Robaina appears to be in violation of Florida law,” wrote McGillis, a one-time concert promoter and past candidate for county clerk of courts.
McGillis, who has also filed to run for county mayor next year, said he sent the complaint after reading Campbell’s comments on the New Times blog. He added that he does not have ties to Gimenez or Robaina, though he is leaning toward voting for Gimenez.
In a statement Tuesday, Gimenez jabbed Robaina for what Gimenez called “more of the same.”
“As a first time candidate, I do not doubt Mr. Campbell’s sincere intentions for our community,” he said. “Mr. Robaina, however, has been an elected official for over 14 years and should know better.”
Luke tried to walk back his statements in a phone interview with The Herald Monday, saying Robaina did not promise to hire Rutledge:
“I can’t tell them to hire anybody,” Campbell said. “I can only make suggestions.”
He brought up ideas for other county posts, Campbell said. None of them was a “deal breaker,” he said, adding that he based his endorsement on many factors, including the candidates’ track records and how much they had invested in the black community.
Eye on Miami (which has endorsed Gimenez and has zero love for Robaina) has a link to the complaint letter filed with the state attorney’s office, and they raise some questions about whether the complaint actually will go anywhere, and whether McGillis is just seeking his 15 minutes of fame.
Even if it has no legal legs, however, this endorsement nightmare has seriously undermined both Luke and Robaina. Amazingly, Campbell has handed Gimenez a bludgeon with which to beat Robaina over the head as just “more of the same” sleazy corruption that Miami-Dade residents are sick of. All of the image problems Robaina already carries into this race — the loans to a Ponzi schemer, the strange, “shadow banking” stuff — are magnified by this blunder, which was a rookie mistake and unforced error by Campbell, who in retrospect, really needed a press secretary, but also a major error by Robaina, who seemed just a little too eager to get Luke on board. In fact, Robaina seems really eager to grab up all the black people he can shove onto his public bandwagon, shining a spotlight on his lack of traction outside his Hialeah base.
Worst of all, the black vote, which for a brief, shining moment, looked like the critical swing vote in this election, now looks like just another part of the Miami graft machine.
And by the way, who can be happy that all of this benefits Carlos Gimenez, who has pretty much vowed to balance the county’s books on the back of police officers, firemen and other middle class public workers, while keeping rich people like Norman Braman’s property taxes low. The choice for Miami-Dade voters now comes down to the cold blooded cost cutter, or a character from “Miami Vice.”
2012 can’t come quickly enough.
UPDATE: the candidates are scheduled to debate again tonight at tonight at 6 PM at the historic Dice House on 10000 SW 82nd Avenue in Kendall, in a forum sponsored by the East Kendall Homeowners Organzation. Early voting starts this Saturday, June 18th, and Election Day is June 28th from from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
UPDATE 2: Marcelo Llorente, the Jeb Bush Republican who came in third in the special election last month, and who is now endorsing Gimenez, issued this email announce today, with an intriguing note about the election process:
Message from Marcelo Llorente:
Early Voting is around the corner!
During the Primary Election I filed a lawsuit to stop Miami-Dade County from taking away any days of Early Voting without giving you, our Citizens, proper notice. Protecting the integrity of our elections and your right to vote is fundamental to our democracy. This is why I’m supporting Carlos Gimenez.
I am confident that as Mayor, Carlos will not sit on the sidelines while your rights are being compromised.
Please note that Early Voting times and dates have changed. I humbly ask you to vote for Carlos Gimenez – #19 -starting this Saturday 7am-7pm until Saturday June 25th, at the 20 convenient Early Voting locations near your home or place of employment. Don’t wait, Vote early!
Together, we will bring a new day to Miami-Dade.
Is that a message designed to appeal to Democratic leaners, who now may or may not know that Gimenez voted for Alex Sink over Rick Scott? Gimenez had been emphasizing his “conservative,” Republican (he says “small R”) credentials, but he now has an opening among Democrats, given that Robaina was a Rick Scott guy in 2010 (he says he disagrees with some of Scott’s policies now.) Tick-tock…