This is the story about Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs — if Snow White was a Democrat princess who empowered her dwarfs and made them feel big… just until the prince came and his kiss awoke her and took her away to state politics, leaving the little guys to mine for votes all by themselves.
Don’t look for a happy ending. At least not for them. Maybe not for her either (more on that later).
The seven dwarfs, who Ladra calls the “Fat Chance Crew” of Democrats that the local party found to pit against every local incumbent Republican in the House are already falling, well, um, short. You can’t even call one challenge a true campaign.
This is the same group breathlessly announced in June with much hoopla as a “No Free Rides” campaign by then Miami-Dade Democratic Party Chairwoman Annette Taddeo (aka Snow White), who has since been tapped as running mate for former Gov. Charlie Crist (aka the prince) and has moved on to work hard for her happy ever after in Tallahaseeland.
Some people say Blanca Nieve just forgot about her dwarfs and hung them out to dry, but Taddeo reminded Ladra that the challenges were symbolic and always more like practice runs for 2016.
“We’ve been honest with every one of them about the fact that all these races are long shots and the party is going to invest in races they can win,” Taddeo told Ladra Sunday afternoon before she left on another road trip to Fort Myers first and then Tampa on Crist’s campaign trail.
“The most important thing is to start building our bench and getting experience, find those stars that stand out and start training them so that when those seats are more attainable, they’re ready. And we believe that will be in two years,” Taddeo added.
She said that getting local Democrats elected — like Homestead Mayor Jeff Porter and Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine — was part of that process.
“These are all steps in the direction of a much stronger foothold in Miami-Dade,” said Taddeo, who spoke briefly with Ladra about the governor’s race, too (more on that later).
Still, you might think that part of the training includes an ability to raise the dough necessary to go up against the treasure troves of Tallahassee-backed incumbents. There’s not even much of the tried and true ol’ blue cash like from unions and PACs, other than $1,500 from the SEIU to all candidates, who also have a $1,000 from both Terranova Corporation and a Miami Beach tech entrepreneur named Christopher Findlater.
Even the Florida Democratic Party is absent from campaign finance reports through Aug. 29. Taddeo must be right: They must need to keep resources in actual races.
It’s almost embarrassing.
Omar Rivero, who is challenging State Rep. Frank Artiles had spent all but $1,200 of his $7,400 account, but that was before his kick-off event last week. Artiles, meanwhile, has already spent $120K of his $170K booty, as of Aug. 29, according to campaign finance reports filed with the state.
- The apparently more frugal, State Rep. Michael Bileca has spent a little more than half of his $126,000 against Kristopher Decossard and all of his $6,200 — or literally 10 times as much.
- Milagros Ruiz, the Democrat challenging State Rep. Jeanette Nuñez, has spent all but $500 of the $3,800 she collected. The incumbent has $160,000 left from her warchest of $245K she got in contributions.
- Carlos Pereira, pit against State Rep. Carlos Trujillo has spent $6,000 of his $8,500 campaign account. Trujillo has spent most of his $144,500 with a total of $122,000 gone to town already. Among the big payees there are National Victory Strategies, the consultancy owned by Sen. Marco Rubio‘s nephew, which got $35,000, and the Lake Worth-based Mountain Moving Strategies, which gets a $2,000 a month retainer since April.
- State Rep. Jose “Cigar Czar” Oliva, who is slated to be Speaker of the House in four years, has also spent what seems like a lot of money for somebody without a primary — $86,000 of his $202K. What is it with these free-spending incumbents. Oh, maybe they realize they got nothing to worry about. Against Oliva, Nelson Milian has raised $4,500 and spent $1,800 of that, most of that on the qualifying fee.
- The biggest bank belongs to Mariano Ariel Corcilli, who is going up against hand-picked GOP heir to District 111 Bryan Avila, who has the whole of Hialeah’s machinery behind him. Corcilli raised $10,800 and has spent $4,500. But he’s on at least a more equal level than the rest because Avila spent all but $8,500 of his $162,000 on the primary against Alex Anthony, which seems unwise.
- One would think that at least Juan Cuba, the executive director of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party, could raise at least $10,000, but he falls just short, according to the latest reports until Aug. 29. That seems like soda change next to the $160,000 treasure trove that State Rep. Jose Felix Diaz collected. He’s spent $66,000, probably needlessly, so he still has almost 10 times as much as Cuba.
Cuba said it was never expected that any of them would raise $100,000 even. The point of the challenges was to send a message and get their community engaged. And perhaps to benefit Crist and Congressman Joe Garcia, who is also facing a tough re-election against Miami-Dade School Board Member Carlos “Crybaby” Curbelo, who won the Republican primary Aug. 26.
“We were never going to get close to the kind of money the incumbents get, all these maxed out checks from people they do business with in Tallahassee,” Cuba said.
“This was meant as a statement, to hold their track record accountable, to get people to talk about the issues,” Cuba told Ladra, adding that all seven dwarfs, er, I mean candidates have very grassroots campaigns. And about half the people they talk to have never heard from or of their state representative.
“These people aren’t even trying to run. They’ve never had to,” Cuba said about the incumbents.
But you don’t have to be a political consultant to know that these are all longshots only at best, and a colossal waste of time, at worst.
Maybe the middle word in “No Free Rides” means that incumbents will have to crank up that campaign economy, because all this gimmicky trick has really done, apparently, is guarantee the collecting and eventual spending of about $1 million so far.
People like campaign consultant and lobbyist David “$%#@&!” Custin — who has at least three incumbent clients — are going to have a very good year.
Re-posted from www.politicalcortadito.com.