Fired from one campaign and chastised by another, veteran Miami political consultant Al Lorenzo finds himself in a position where no political operative wants to be: in the news.
Lorenzo, 60, lost his lucrative post in Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s reelection campaign Monday for failing to disclose that one of his subcontractors has a lengthy criminal record. Lorenzo remains on Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle’s reelection payroll, but she asked him to keep the subcontractor and career felon, Gerardo Judas “Jerry” Ramos, away from her race.
The moves capped a tumultuous week in local politics, following an investigation into ballot fraud in Hialeah. The probe rippled across the county, with chatter that Lorenzo was somehow linked to Deisy Cabrera, charged with absentee-ballot fraud, and that he had created a potential conflict of interest for Fernández Rundle. She recused herself from the case after Cabrera was arrested last week, citing unconfirmed reports that linked her campaign to Cabrera.
Lorenzo has flatly denied any connection to Cabrera, and Fernández Rundle has not clarified which person working on her campaign was allegedly seen with Cabrera.
“There’s an old saying that any press is good press,” said Screven Watson, a consultant for former Democratic candidates Rod Smith and Dave Aronberg. “That’s true — unless it’s about a staff person or campaign consultant … Most consultants understand that and take themselves out.”
Lorenzo is not just any consultant.
A mainstay of Miami-Dade politics, he has earned about $5 million in fees from 148 campaigns since 2000. A registered Democrat and lobbyist, he has also worked for top Republicans like former Gov. Jeb Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio and congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, while also pulling in $50,000 from the state Democratic Party in 2008 to help President Barack Obama get out the vote. His firm, Quantum Results, earned nearly $1 million from back-to-back efforts to persuade county voters to approve Las Vegas-style slot machines.
For Lorenzo, the latest spate of bad press comes as he juggles at least eight — formerly nine, counting Gimenez — candidates on the Aug. 14 ballot, excluding municipal candidates. Known as a judicial-campaign specialist, he has been paid by about 20 additional judicial candidates who did not draw opponents.
Not all of his clients appear happy with his services. Former Miami-Dade Commissioner Jimmy Morales hired Lorenzo for his 2004 mayoral campaign runoff against Carlos Alvarez. Asked if Lorenzo helped his race, Morales said, “Well, I didn’t win.”
Lorenzo did not respond to a call or email for comment Tuesday. He did not answer the door at his fenced, ranch-style home off Sunset Drive.
Before campaigning became a business, Lorenzo’s political life began as many do: through friendship.
Lorenzo was a childhood baseball buddy of former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz. Years later, Lorenzo campaigned for Diaz, who was elected in 2001 and reelected in 2005.Working for Diaz, Lorenzo teamed up with François Illas, then the mayor’s chief of staff. The two later joined forces as campaign consultants, setting up phone banks, making media advertising buys, mailing fliers and corralling Election Day precinct volunteers. Illas, too, lost his job with the Gimenez campaign this week; his last day was Tuesday.