The announcement that Suarez was ending his mayoral campaign stunned political insiders and observers of what was expected to be a tight contest for Miami’s premier post. Suarez had presented himself as a new type of leader, concentrating on attracting young voters through social media.
Still, political pollster Fernand Amandi warned that voters should not count Suarez out too soon. Others have done far worse and made bigger comebacks, he noted.
“It’s difficult to present the image of new leadership for the new Miami when your campaign is accused of engaging in the same old tactics,” Amandi said. “Mr. Suarez is still young, and he has an opportunity to still address some of these challenges and perhaps correct them, and one day in the future run again. In Miami, there are no second chapters; there are 10th and 11th chapters.”
Regalado said he and Suarez met early Monday, and that the commissioner told him he was weighing his options. The mayor, who had his own costly campaign woes in 2009 over sloppy financial reporting, said he sympathized with Suarez, noting that when a campaign gets too large it is difficult to keep track of everything.
“He had bumps in his campaign,” said the mayor. “A lot of people were doing things the candidate didn’t know. The campaign became too big.”
Suarez’s support had been impressive. He easily raised more money than Regalado, a seasoned politician who has not lost an election in almost 20 years.
As of June 30, an Electioneering Communications Organization supporting Suarez and run by political operative Jose “Pepe” Riesco had raised $824,212. Donations came from companies and individuals. The management consulting firm Nsoro Mastec contributed $25,000, lobbyist Steve Marin tossed in $15,000, and lobbyist Ron Book donated $10,000. Suarez had also personally raised $495,911 in campaign contributions as of July 10, according to city records.
City records show Regalado has raised $449,468.
Suarez said Monday his instinct is to return the money to contributors, but added he needs to speak to his lawyers first to determine whether any legal issues might be involved.