Campaigns for mayoral race, so far, so bad
August 22, 1993
The best way for voters to endure the dismal Miami mayoral race is to think of it not merely as another parade of fools, but as a vaudeville audition.
With the election more than two months away, the campaign has already degenerated into a promising orgy of mudslinging and petty sabotage. The three major candidates—Miami Commissioner Miriam Alonso, former Metro Mayor Steve Clark and T. Willard Fair, head of the Urban League—all allege slimeball behavior by their opponents.
The question for Miami voters isn't whether the candidates engage in dirty tricks. It's a given that most of them do. The issue is the quality of these new dirty tricks. Are they personal enough, vicious enough, deceptive enough and craven enough to uphold the city's sewer-rat tradition of scummy politics?
So far, so bad.
Now appearing on many cars are fluorescent bumper stickers that proclaim: "Miriam Alonso is a Communist." Well, Alonso is not a Communist, and every self-respecting Communist ought to be offended at the suggestion. The party's got enough headaches in Miami without having the shrill and conniving Alonso as a member.
On the question of temperament, tabloid newspapers now circulating in Little Havana enigmatically describe the commissioner as "erratic and crazy." Is this propaganda intended to be anti-Alonso, or pro-Alonso? In some precincts, being erratic and crazy would make you the odds-on favorite.
Alonso says the nasty bumper stickers and newspapers can be traced to Steve Clark and his main supporter on the Miami commission, Victor deYurre. The reason that Clark needs a pal on the commission is (in his own words): "I don't know exactly what's going on down at City Hall because I haven't been there for 20 years."
In fact, Clark has made a career of claiming not to know what's going on, and not being there when it was. Still, he is justifiably irked by insinuations from the Alonso camp that, at 69, he's too old to be a forceful mayor. To be fair, Clark never claimed to be a forceful mayor. Hundreds of weekday golfing partners can attest to his devotion to leisure.
Raising questions about Clark's age and alertness is a risky proposition for Alonso. After all, it was she who completely forgot where she lived—and in fact, gave the wrong address—when running for office a few years ago. Perhaps both she and Clark would consent to mutual CAT scans to allay constituent concerns about possible impairment.
A new face in the political cross fire is T. Willard Fair, although he's not unacquainted with controversy. Writing in the Miami Times, Fair (who is black) has attacked other black leaders by naming them "nigger of the year." No fine trophy or plaque accompanies this dubious award.
Fair's opponents have been reminding black voters of his bluntness and have suggested that such coarse tendencies are potentially dangerous in a city where racial tensions lie close to the surface. Fair is also being slammed for failing to support Dade's black tourism boycott. To note that Clark and Alonso didn't support the boycott either would only spoil a perfectly bad dirty trick.
For all his bombast, Fair is easily the smartest of the three mayoral candidates, which automatically makes him the long shot. Alonso, the loudest of the trio, is presumed the front-runner. Clark, heavily bankrolled by developers, is running a strong and defiantly lackluster second. While the race is off to a truly disgraceful start, it will require all the candidates' energy to stay gutter-bound between now and Nov. 2.1 have every confidence they'll sink to the occasion.