Sunday, May 27, 2018
Politics

Buzz: Ex-Miami mayor may back out of governor's race

Former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz is considering whether to leave Florida's gubernatorial race, a decision that could make it easier for former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist to sew up the Democratic primary.

For days, political insiders have buzzed with speculation that Diaz won't stay in the race — for unspecified family reasons — and Diaz isn't doing much to quell the talk.

"No decision yet," he said in a brief text message in response to a question about whether he'd drop out of the race.

Top advisers say they're not sure, either.

"I don't know if he's staying in," said Richard Lydecker, Miami-Dade's former Democratic Party chairman.

"He hasn't decided if he has decided," Lydecker added.

Diaz has tried to keep his potential candidacy under wraps for months.

In January, he avoided reporters' calls on the matter — even though he was plugging his new book, Miami Transformed, and the attention wouldn't have hurt sales.

Then, sometime in late February, Diaz went from appearing to run hard for office by lining up supporters and insiders to not returning their calls.

A poll last month showed Diaz had formidable challenges: He's largely unknown.

Diaz would earn only 4 percent of the vote in a theoretical matchup against Crist (43 percent), 2010 gubernatorial Democratic candidate Alex Sink (14 percent), former Weston state Sen. Nan Rich (1 percent) and former Orlando-area congressional candidate Val Demings (1 percent).

Rich is the only announced candidate of those who were polled in the survey conducted by Hamilton Campaigns, a firm that typically works for Democrats. Sink has been lukewarm about running and, though she's being urged to run, Demings appears unlikely at the moment.

Latvala shares his feelings

State Sen. Jack Latvala, our latest winner of the week, is not a fellow who easily keeps his temper bottled up. So learned the Florida Times-Union after filing a public records request relating to the ethics reform legislation Latvala is shepherding. From the Times-Union story:

In a profanity-laced tirade Monday, the St. Petersburg Republican blasted a reporter for filing a public records request he called a "fishing expedition."

The request, filed Feb. 20 by the Times-Union, was seeking backup documents related to the Senate's ethics reform package. It included a request for documents housed in Latvala's office because he is chairman of the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee, which authored the bill.

He was not happy because he had to spend "a solid hour of personal time" going through personal emails to fulfill the request.

"I don't like (expletive deleted) requests that waste my (expletive deleted) time," said Latvala, who has called his bill the most sweeping ethics reform in nearly 40 years.

Gaetz unhappy with D.C.

Senate President Don Gaetz told the Capitol Tiger Bay Club on Friday that the federal sequester is causing problems for Florida lawmakers as they try to build a budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

Calling the sequester "the cloud that hangs over both the governor and the Legislature and all the budget assumptions," Gaetz said he hopes Congress and President Barack Obama can find a way to agree on a long-term solution.

"My greatest fear is that they will kick the can down the road another three or six months," he said.

Times staff writer Tia Mitchell contributed to this report.

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