Marielena Stuart? Who?
The from-out-of-nowhere U.S. Senate candidate who won over Pinellas County Republicans in a straw poll Monday evokes Sarah Palin with her anti-establishment rhetoric and unwavering patriotism.
Marielena Stuart is her name on the campaign. When she's writing columns for conservative and Catholic websites, she goes by Marielena Montesino de Stuart.
She's been in the Senate race since August, generating a little buzz near her hometown city of Ave Maria (in southwest Florida near Naples) and among some tea party groups but not much statewide.
After the straw poll results were announced, one person shouted, "That's the tea party for you!"
Stuart has worked as a linguist and interpreter, speaking Spanish and French, with some Greek and Italian. Some of her columns have appeared in the Naples Daily News.
On Monday she spoke briefly of being the daughter of a Cuban political prisoner and being beaten by communists. She railed against same-sex marriage, abortions, sustainable development, China and the U.S. Department of Education, which she pledged to dissolve.
She said she's been traveling around mid-sized and small Florida towns as a citizen candidate since Sept. 11.
When other candidates in the high-profile Senate race travel, they usually tow along a manager, spokesperson or consultants.
Things are different in Stuart's camp. Her daughter Elena, 14, took pictures of her with supporters at the St. Petersburg Marriot Clearwater hotel on Monday. Son John Paul, 12, passed out campaign infopackets and business cards from the lobby, clad in a full suit. Her husband was somewhere gathering video. The Roman Catholic homeschools her children.
"We run the campaign as a family," Stuart said.
More from news clips:
- In 2009, she was banned from Ave Maria University after frequently criticizing the school and town. Stuart tried to attend a press conference at the private university even though she was banned, and police stopped her from entering. In a statement, the university wrote that Stuart “has demonstrated an ongoing and open hostility toward Ave Maria University."
- The Miami New Times likened her appearance to an "aging Elizabeth Taylor" in a lengthy story about her run-ins with elites who run the Catholic town of Ave Maria (namely, Domino's Pizza magnate Tom Monaghan).
- She railed against efforts to open a Jackson Laboratory facility in Collier County because the lab is open to conducting embryonic stem cells.
She registered to vote as a Republican in Collier County on Nov. 5, 2007, the same year she moved to Ave Maria from Los Angeles. She immigrated to Los Angeles from Cuba when she was 11.
She has the endorsement of former California Republican Rep. Bob Dornan.
Pinellas GOP chair JJ Beyrouti said he wasn't sure if the fire would last for Stuart.
"It might, it might not. But she sure definitely delivered a stump speech," he said. "And I feel like also LeMieux delivered a very good speech and right on target."
What's next for Stuart? She posted this statement on her website Tuesday.
My landslide victory last night at the Pinellas County GOP Straw Poll is a testament to the conservative presence inside the Republican Party—which rejects the moderate, business-as-usual approach to Washington DC politics.
This Straw Poll also represents the power of my Republican candidacy for the U.S. Senate in Florida. A power borne out of a true grassroots Republican campaign—based on hard work and integrity. This Straw Poll was the first professional Straw Poll conducted in this U.S. Senate race in Florida. Officials from the Supervisor of Elections were present– and official voting machines were brought in. Each voter had to present their voter registration ID in order to vote. The entire poll process was conducted in the manner of an official election. Only Republicans were allowed to vote.
Floridians are suffering the economic consequences of our country’s descent into massive debt– and unemployment continues to rise. An overgrowth of ideologies has enveloped America, based on class warfare, tolerance of Sharia Law —and economic models based on Sustainable Development and redistribution of wealth. These are Socialist-based programs that are enemies of American prosperity and our property rights.
Human life and the traditional family has been devalued, and anti-human ideologies have infected our communities and government. Innocent human life has become a disposable commodity. Americans, now more than ever, understand that human life and the traditional family are our greatest asset.
I am deeply grateful to so many freedom-loving conservative Americans who have stood by me, with their passionate dedication and support. I look forward to continuing my message of life, freedom and prosperity throughout Florida, on the campaign trail.