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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Villalobos at Center Stage



Here's one way to make a big impression in Miami politics: Take a seat at center stage at a Charlie Crist rally featuring Arizona Sen. John McCain. And who had that center-stage spot on Saturday morning? That would be state Sen. Alex Villalobos, who's in the re-election fight of his life in which Gov. Jeb Bush and a slew of outside groups are backing his opponent, Frank Bolanos.

Villalobos wore a broad grin and a white guayabera at the rally at a historic theatre, and the crowd of 500-or-so gave him a rousing welcome. He praised Crist as honest and decent and as "mi gran amigo."

Villalobos sat next to U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez, but the star of the rally was clearly Arizona Sen. John McCain, who is on a four-city swing with Crist. The attorney general, focused on his own fight with Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, wants no part of the Villalobos-Bolanos feud, and he did not acknowledge Villalobos in his speech. The senator said he didn't mind: "I'm here to support him. This is his event."

The rally ran a little behind schedule, and no one seemed to mind -- with the possible exception of Villalobos. "I've got to get out of here and go walk the district," he said. 

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 3:13pm]


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