Hi there friends. In the comments section of my last blog, “Florida’s Gubernatorial Race”, my friend Jorge Villalon asked me to give him my two-bits on the forthcoming race for Florida’s 27th district between Republican Maria Elvira Salazar and Democrat Donna Shalala. Specifically, John’s concern in this race lies in the fact than the “independent” candidate may split the vote to where Shalala wins.
I think that Jorge deserves, if nothing else, an answer, not just drawn from thin air, but somewhat a more thoughtful response – one based on facts rather than off the cuff, extemporaneous innuendos. Before I can even address Jorge’s concern I must, right of the bat, admit, I have never, ever, been into our own political scene here in South Florida. I say that respectfully, but I believe, from the bottom of my heart, that South Florida politics is nothing but – a three-ring political circus.
I am sorry to say, but, regretfully, Miami’s Cuban political Mafia, seems to have just taken-over for years now to where I personally have seen the prevalence of the same evils akin to most politicians, regardless of what area of the nation or the planet. If anything, I think the Miami political scene has always had its larger share of greed, corruption, scandals, than most areas of the nation, bar none. The ‘same-old’, ‘same-old’ disgrace which once paved the way for the coming of a Dictator like Fidel Castro back in the day.
But back to our topic – Florida’s 27th District. As we all know, the 27th District was practically owned by GOP’s Ileana Ros-Lehtinen – Cuban’s political version of Mother Teresa. As we know Ros-Lehtinen has been nothing short than an institution as a Florida congressional representative for 24 years, from 1989 to 2013, first with the 18th District followed by the 27th. On April 30th, 2017, Ros-Lehtinen announced that she would not be running for re-election in 2018. With all due respects to Ileana’s supporters, I personally have never been quite the admirer that other Cuban-Americans have been. In the end, to me she was as ‘political’ as all the rest – for which I didn’t really care for her one way or the other. You see, I have a big problem supporting a candidate for the mere fact that we are bound by the Cuban roots – just my very own feeling about the issue.
My only concern when she [Lehtinen] announced her retirement dealt more with ‘party’ politics more than anything else, if you ask me. I view Ros-Lehtinen’s retirement, much like the democrats did. I viewed her leaving as one of the best chances nationwide for a Democratic pickup in the DNC’s quest to win House control over the GOP.
As we all now know, on August 28th, in the Florida Primary Election, Cuban-American and T.V. personality Maria Elvira Salazar won the Republican nomination while democratic contender Donna Shalala won the Democratic nomination. Admittedly, it promises to be a close race. As to my friend Jorge Villalon’ s question, specifically, no, I don’t think that the ‘independent’ nominee Mayra Joli will split the vote, and/or, for that matter, I really don’t think her presence will influence the outcome of the elections one way or the other.
I think that this will be a head-on between Shalala and Salazar. Now, as what is my forecast on the outcome. Well, I must be honest, personally, I would want Salazar to win, if nothing else, again, because if she [Salazar] loses it means one less seat in the House. In addition, I am going to tell you, I truly hate Shalala, the old witch, with a passion. But…then again, that is just personal emotions.
I have a different picture altogether if I used the intellect to give you a prediction. Let’s be truthful here. If I look at the race from a completely objective perspective, I say it can go either way – vintage for our swinging state of Florida. Let me expand a little bit on this. As far as Maria Elvira Salazar, as well as she enjoys a great following amongst Cuban-Americans, her popularity as a T.V. personality within the Hispanic community of South Florida is just that – very much a popularity within a minority section of the voting universe.
I say that Maria Elvira’s chances to win the election are mostly riding on the Cuban-American vote. Two-thirds (67%) of the nation’s 1.2 million Cuban eligible voters live in Florida, with many living in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach area. But as Florida’s Latino eligible voter population has grown (reaching 2.6 million in 2014), the Cuban share of that population has declined to 31%. (The Puerto Rican share of the state’s Latino eligible population stands at 28%.) Question is: Can this 31% be enough to carry Salazar to the promised land? Answer is: maybe yes, maybe no.
If we use past statistics, again, it can go either way. In the 2016 elections, Ros-Lehtinen won 54.9% over Democratic opponent Scott Fuhrman’s 45.1%. Vis-à-vis, while Trump won 14 of Florida’s 27 districts, ironically, Florida’s 27th District voted mostly democrat with Hillary Clinton getting 59% of the vote vs., Trump’s 39%. Having said that, I don’t think that in the forthcoming Midterm elections, Cuban-Americans will vote for Shalala as they did for Clinton in 2016.
Now, about Shalala. Here again, I have two opinions: one, my very personal one, and second, my intellectual counterpart. I shall share with you both. Strictly from an intellectual perspective, I got to say, Shalala does have certain strengths over Salazar – the most significant one is her fund-raising abilities, and, in politics, my friends, is mostly about campaign money.
Donna Shalala’s resume, has her joined-at-the-hips with the Clintons all throughout her life. She first served the Clintons as United States Secretary of Health and Human Services under President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 2001. She later became the president of the University of Miami from 2001 to 2015. In September 2014 she announced her resignation from UM to, once again, join the Clintons as President of the Clinton Foundation. As far as I am concerned, her fund-raising ability, as that shown in raising close to 3 billion dollars for UM, will be one of Shalala’s greatest assets in the forthcoming elections. Her biggest flaw, the fact that she is an up-and-up Clintonite.
Now, as far as I am concerned, on a very personal note, I say the old witch is “bad-news”. Really bad news. You see, for me, the Clintons are two of the most corrupt people in this country. They are, in my view, outright white-collar criminals who have outsmarted the system through their savvy use of political influence and power – a true sign of the corruption now prevalent at the highest levels of our government. To me, the Clinton Foundation is probably one of the most fraudulent and dishonest organizations in the history of the U.S. For Donna Shalala to have served as President of this quid-pro-quo Foundation is about as low as you can go – a true reflection of the witch’s moral character.
I must also say, that my presumptuous reflection of Shalala’s character is not, mind you, altogether without factual back-up. Just so that you know, her journey at UM is plagued with controversy. Under her tenure, the big scandal was Nevin Shapiro – a $900 million-dollar Ponzi Scheme in 2011, where Shapiro, now in prison, sought to buy favors for student-athletes (hookers among other things). Shalala weathered the controversy despite multiple calls for her resignation.
In 2006, under Shalala’s tenure, UM’s janitors went on a hunger-strike to protest for their low wages. As if this was not enough Shalala’s reputation took a hit with a series of controversial stories, dealing with a student’s protest over a rape assailant allowed to graduate; by a New Times Story of a student allegedly sexually harassed by her professors and others. In all the incidents, Shalala has been accused of covering-up and/or protecting the assailants, much like the Catholic Church’s alleged cover-up in the prevalent child sexual abuse scandal.
So, my friend Jorge, there you go. What is my final prediction on this election, well, in summary and in answer to your question, I don’t think that the independent, Myra Joli will split votes to where these votes can make the difference in the final outcome. Again, my personal wishes are for Salazar to win, regardless. Can she win? Yes, it will be close though. She needs the Cuban-Americans’ vote, but she also needs a share of the Anglo vote and the rest of the Florida voting universe. I give her a chance only for the same reasons that Ros-Lehtinen won the seat in 2016 – this my greatest hope, a statistical one at best.
Can Shalala win? Most certainly she can. I guarantee you her campaign will be well-funded, and I can guarantee you she will have a major support from the democratic base and much the same liberal base that went for Clinton in 2016.
All in all, I think this race will be a complete toss-up. Highly unpredictable, if yet, I know I will be voting for Salazar as I still live by the old cliché, which is that – “every vote counts”.