In fighting his way into a Nov. 21 runoff election for Miami City Commission, Alfonso “Alfie” Leon emerged as a dark horse candidate and knocked off two heirs of the city’s political dynasties.
But if he hopes to pull off a repeat upset against former Mayor Joe Carollo, he’ll have to do it without the help of his former opponents.
Trailing Carollo by 600 votes after the general election, Leon’s campaign had hoped to get a boost from the five other candidates in the race who combined pulled nearly half the 6,000 ballots cast. But so far, no one has rushed to Leon’s aid.
If anything, they’re doing the opposite.
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A Miami Herald query of the District 3 commission candidates who were eliminated Nov. 7 found that José Suárez and Alex Dominguez plan to vote for Carollo. Miguel Soliman declined to comment, but acknowledged that his mother recently participated in a campaign television commercial for the former mayor.
Meanwhile, Zoraida Barreiro, who pulled 20 percent of the general election vote, has dodged calls and ignored texts from the Miami Herald, hanging up on a reporter Tuesday morning. Her husband, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Bruno Barreiro, did not respond to a voice message.
We’ve reached out. Many of them are taking time to reflect what happened last week.
“The other candidates, we’ve reached out,” Leon said. “Many of them are taking time to reflect on what happened last week.”
Suárez and Dominguez said they wanted to support Leon, but were dismayed to learn he’d participated in a fundraiser at the Biltmore in Coral Gables and accepted help from county Commissioner Xavier Suarez after campaigning as an outsider. Leon raised $84,000 to Carollo’s $465,000 during the general election, but the former candidates — both of whom ran anti-dynasty campaigns — said they already know what they’re getting with the former mayor.
“I don’t feel comfortable with some of the things Alfie has done,” said Suárez. “He’s talking about being an outsider and then going with the big dogs fundraising in Coral Gables.”
I do not care to engage in conversation about [the] D3 runoff.
Commissioner Frank Carollo
Leon is getting some help. A political committee, Accountability in Government, attacked Carollo during the general election and is now airing an ad on Radio Mambí blasting the former mayor. But Tomás N. “Tommy” Regalado, whose losing campaign for the same office had ties to the chairman of the committee, has declined to discuss the runoff election and did not return messages seeking comment.
Also declining to publicly endorse anyone in the race so far is outgoing District 3 Commissioner Frank Carollo.
That often wouldn’t merit a second glance since incumbents often stay out of races to replace them. But in this case Leon is Frank Carollo’s former chief policy adviser. And, of course, Joe Carollo is the commissioner’s older brother.
“I do not care to engage in conversation about [the] D3 runoff,” Carollo texted this weekend when asked whether he would endorse anyone in the runoff.
The Carollo brothers have long had a complicated relationship. And it’s not as if the elder brother’s campaign — built on rescuing the district from rampant crime and neglect — has been flattering to the incumbent. But the former mayor hinted Monday night that he may get support from the outgoing commissioner after all.
“I have to thank [Xavier Suarez] and Mr. Leon for uniting the Carollo family to an extreme,” Carollo said. “That’s all I will say.”