Arza considers Senate run
Former Hialeah Rep. Ralph Arza was walking in and around the Capitol yesterday, chatting with old friends (and the media who don't quite qualify) and considering a run for state Senate in 2010. Arza left office in 2006 after he and a cousin were charged with witness tampering. They left threatening-sounding messages on the cell phone of former Miami Beach Rep. Gus Barreiro, who had filed a House rules complaint alleging Arza had used the n-word (a charge Arza still denies) to describe Miami-Dade's school chief at the time, Rudy Crew.*
Arza's most memorable line from the drunken phone call he wished he never made: "God bless you, bi---."
Word is, Arza has gone into the consulting/lobbying biz (he won't say which) and has moved to Palm Beach County (incidental home of the Parsons Corp., an engineering and construction firm repped by Arza cousin and lobbyist Hugo Arza). He said the time off has been good to him because he's made good money. Now, his past behind him, he just might file for the Hialeah Senate seat that Rudy Garcia's leaving due to term limits.
"I'm strongly considering it," Arza said last night.
Arza would face former colleague and Rep. Rene Garcia, who has the incumbent's support and looked like he was a lock for the seat. No more. Arza still owns property in the district, and his strong political ties haven't been severed. Arza's sense of politics is so keen that political campaign/attackmeister Randy Nielsen once recalled how Arza would know almost every block in his district, recording the names of voters, their kids and even their dogs.
Just to the south of that Senate seat, Sens. Alex Diax de la Portilla and Alex Villalobos are leaving because of term limits as well. DLP's brother, former Miami-Dade Commissioner Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, plans to run for the seat and state Rep. Julio Robaina has filed for it.
The granddaddy fight will likely be for the seat that Villalobos narrowly clung to in '06 when was the de facto campaign chief for Frank Bolaños. Both House budget chiefs, David Rivera and Marcelo Llorente, are running for the seat; Rep. Anitere Flores is expected to run as well. All the lawmakers are Republicans.
Conventional wisdom: Rivera would win because he's all politics all the time (similar to Arza), but if Llorente raises the cash and works the district hard, it won't be a cakewalk for anyone. Other conventional wisdom: Flores wins if the two guys tear each other apart and she scoops up the abuela vote that Villalobos (a Llorente backer) credited for his '06 win.
* Note: Arza has asked for a correction from a story the Times/Herald ran last week in which we said he "resigned" from office in '06. Arza said he didn't. He just removed his name from the ballot and let Eddy Gonzalez stand in for him. Whether it's a distinction without a difference, we'll check. But it suggests Arza is getting in campaign mode. After all, dozens of stories in virtually every media outlet said he resigned, as did then-Gov. Jeb Bush.
The latest article in question concerned Barreiro, who was fired from his DJJ job for allegedly misusing his computer, which is in FDLE's hands now. No one will say what happened. Arza's other political nemesis, Rudy Crew, left the Dade school district in disgrace and Crew's successor, Alberto Carvalho (who had spoken out against Arza as well) was bound in a mini scandal concerning what appeared to be an inappropriate relationship with a former female Miami Herald reporter who was covering him.
So this looks like Arza's season.