And the hits just keep on coming against former Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla in the Republican primary for Senate District 40, a special summer election brought to you by the arrogant, drunken, racist rants of former Sen. Frank Artiles, who was forced to resign.
That the attacks are coming from or on behalf of Artiles’ best friend and Tallahassee roommate make this offended morality campaign somewhat ironic. But you have to admit, Alex, as the OG Repulican bad boy, makes an easy mark.
Former State Rep. Jose Felix Diaz has waged an almost entirely negative campaign against Dean DLP. It has overshadowed the earlier question of who is more Republican (which one of Pepi Diaz’s operatives took issue with on my Facebook page, without disclosing she was a paid operative). He sent two bland pieces early on — a bio intro with a family portrait and a “jobs, jobs, jobs” piece that seemed like a cut and paste from insert Republican candidate here — and two more last week, when absentee ballots came out. They are unmemorable except for the one that makes it seem like he is for raising the minimum wage. “Bigger salaries for our community,” the headline says in Spanish. The fine print explains that it is about allegedly creating jobs by cutting regulations to businesses.
Other than that, Pepi’s campaign has been all about Alex. Even the two TV commercials that Ladra has seen have been mostly about not voting for Diaz de la Portilla. Don’t get me wrong, DLP is not without faults. There are reasons not to vote for him. But are there any reasons to vote for Pepi other than voting against Alex? You can’t tell from his campaign.
Diaz will swear he has nothing to do with the multiple attack mailers and, now, a new, anti-DLP website paid for by Making A Better Tomorrow, a Venice, Fla-based political action committee. But he knew it was coming. And he uses the same language and images in his TV commercials.
He could stop it if he wanted to. Don’t be fooled, dear reader, by the aw shucks Gomer Pyle smile. Remember, Mr. Amicable Pepi Diaz is the same guy who allowed a campaign against former State Rep. Ana Rivas Logan to question her Cuban roots and cast her as an unfit mother simply because she wouldn’t move out of the district they were drawn into together. And it’s not like Diaz has to hit him. The mainstream media is doing its part, most recently with a surprise report days ago about a 2012 arrest in Boston for smoking in a hotel room, despite repeated warnings not to, with Tania Cruz, the wife of CJ Gimenez, son of Miami-Dade mayor Carlos Gimenez (more on that later). Although some might believe the tip came from the Diaz camp.
But with DLP’s name ID and poll numbers so high, Pepi Diaz can’t take any chances. The mailers against DLP have been almost daily since the absentee ballots went out last week. They pretty much have the same theme, casting The Dean as a man with “serious character flaws,” like gambling, credit card debt, alcohol abuse and bouts of explosive violence. They include “living beyond his means” but everyone I know does that.
“Hi. I’m Alex Diaz de la Portilla and the rules don’t apply to me,” it says on the front of one. The back lists not one, not two but five attacks against DLP, including a Commission of Elections fine that was later reduced (they don’t say that) and the allegations by an ex-wife that he had violent impulses, especially under the influence of alcohol.
One of the mailers has a photo of Diaz de la Portilla holding what we are supposed to believe is a rum runner or something — but it is a mamey smoothie given to him by a voter in a pic he posted on Facebook. The most egrigious use of a batido de mamey ever.
It’s funny, but ridiculous, that Pepi Diaz is making an issue of alcohol given his BFF’s resignation was likely due to a drunken rant. It’s also slightly hipocritical to use an ugly divorce and the allegations of an ex wife who is also, by the way, a state lobbyist, particularly when your BFF racist ex-legislator buddy had hired a Playboy bunny and a Hooters girl as “consultants” on his campaign. Diaz is going to be the morality police now? No me digas! Where was he when his best friend and Tallahassee roommate was traveling with paid escorts?
But its not enough to mail the attacks. The Diaz team wants to have them online, in a website launched solely to attack the candidate, a campaign tactic that is being used more and more. There are 22 files of DLP “dirt” in a filing cabinet and visitors “click a tab to view the evidence,” at www.factsaboutadlp.com, which might be the work of the political strategist who attacked me and Ladra’s motives on Facebook the other day without disclosing that she worked for one of the candidates (she claims to be a digital consultant on Diaz’s campaign reports, whatever that is). And she should own up to it. Because it’s pretty good as far as hit pieces go.
Not that good, though. It didn’t include the 2012 arrest.
DLP seems unfazed. He did not respond to several text message this week but has told Ladra before that the voters in the district know him and that these tactics will backfire. “It’s started to backfire already,” he said last time we spoke, offering no details.
Maybe so. But Ladra feels that Pepi has no other choice, given ADLP’s high name recognition, than to go negative. In this short election cycle, the best Diaz can do is attack DLP and turn positive name rec into negative name ID — even if it would give whoever wins the Democratic primary an edge against him in a decidedly competitive general. Annette Taddeo and Ana Rivas Logan are two lucky women who must be very happy about all of this.
We’ll know if it worked in less than two weeks. But Ladra bets we see another hit piece before that. The way this campaign is going, we wouldn’t be surprised if the next mailer depicts the Dean and the mayor’s son’s wife as belligerent drunks getting arrested in a smoky hotel room.