The two candidates for Miami-Dade mayor clashed bitterly over their inner circles Sunday, with challenger Raquel Regalado accusing incumbent Carlos Gimenez of having “daddy issues” for his frequent criticisms of her father, Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado.
“My father and I are two different people. I know Carlos Gimenez has tried to make us one person because he has daddy issues,” Regalado told “Facing South Florida” host Jim DeFede in a televised debate. “But I don’t have daddy issues. ... I’m not my father. We’ve taken issues [where] we don’t agree with each other.”
The statement prompted DeFede to say to the 62-year-old Gimenez: “I don’t want to get Freudian here. But daddy issues?”
“I haven’t the faintest idea what she’s talking about with daddy issues. I don’t have daddy issues,” replied Gimenez, whose father is 94. To Regalado, seated at a studio table across from him, Gimenez said: “You’re always with your father at all your political events. Your father is always on the radio talking about you.”
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Replied Regalado, a 42-year-old divorced mother of two: “And your wife is always on the radio talking about you.”
The exchange highlighted just how personal the confrontations became in what was only the second time the two mayoral candidates have faced off in a campaign that began in early 2015 when Regalado became the first person to file for the 2016 race.
“You are the queen of making it up,” Gimenez told Regalado. She responded: “Well, you’re the king of denial.”
Regalado accused Gimenez of having close ties to lobbyists, including finance chairman Ralph Garcia-Toledo, a subcontractor for the county’s sewer department and a registered lobbyist for his own firm, G-T Construction. She pointed to his grown children’s connections to county contracts as well, including a daughter-in-law working for a firm on another sewer project and a son who was employed by a construction firm that does county work.
My father and I are two different people. I know Carlos Gimenez has tried to make us one person because he has daddy issues.
School board member Raquel Regalado on father Tomás Regalado, the mayor of Miami.
“At least admit who you are, what you’ve done to Miami-Dade County government,” she said. “You have institutionalized corruption.”
The 45-minute debate is slated to be the only televised English exchange during the fall runoff between Regalado and Gimenez, who did not accept a similar invitation by DeFede for a one-on-one debate during the seven-candidate mayoral primary. Gimenez expected to win the primary outright by crossing the 50 percent threshold, but was forced into a runoff when he captured 48 percent of the vote to Regalado’s 32 percent. Gimenez agreed to another televised debate on Sunday, Oct. 16 on Spanish-language Univision.
During Sunday’s live debate, Gimenez directed criticism toward his opponent’s father. “I don’t have a driver. I drive myself. I don’t have an entourage,” said Gimenez, in office since 2011. “Unlike her father, who has a car allowance, a driver and a car, and security.”
You are the queen of making it up.
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez to challenger Raquel Regalado
In a statement, Tomás Regalado said he “renounced” the $800 monthly car allowance he is eligible for under city rules and, like Gimenez, cut his salary upon taking office. “It seems that Gimenez is running against me,” he wrote.
On the issues, the candidates clashed on:
▪ For-hire cars. Regalado said Miami-Dade’s new rules for Uber have left the county vulnerable to millions of dollars in claims from the taxi industry but that she would not undo recent legislation legalizing app-based hailing services like Uber and Lyft. Gimenez noted the taxi industry supports Regalado and warned she would try to limit the ride-hailing companies’ operations. “I’m very proud to say I’m the mayor who brought Uber and Lyft to Miami-Dade County.”
▪ The American Dream Miami retail theme park. Gimenez negotiated the deal that allowed the owners of Minnesota’s Mall of America to plan an even larger version in Northwest Miami-Dade, touting it as an historic boost to the county’s economy with a promise of more than 20,000 jobs. Regalado opposes the plan, saying it will bring mostly low-wage retail jobs without a plan to mitigate the spike in traffic from tourists and shoppers heading to the complex. “This is more of the same: a developer came and talked to Carlos Gimenez … now we’re stuck with this project.”
Gimenez countered that last year Regalado voted for selling vacant school-board land for the American Dream assemblage in exchange for $8.2 million, which at the time she called a great deal for the system even if she opposed the project.
I don’t want to get Freudian here. But ‘daddy issues’?
Facing South Florida host Jim DeFede to Gimenez
▪ Zika. Regalado opposed the county’s spraying the insecticide naled over Miami Beach, a move that some residents opposed over health concerns about the chemical. Gimenez questioned why she didn’t oppose use of naled in Miami, sprayings that did not spark the kind of fierce opposition seen later on the Beach. “She’s incapable of making a hard decision,” Gimenez said. “She’s incapable of saying to the people of Miami Beach: We need to spray in order to reduce the risk of Zika.”
Regalado accused Gimenez of failing to ramp up mosquito-control budgets in 2015 and early 2016 for the inevitable arrival of the virus from Latin America. “I think the book we’re writing is on what not to do for mosquito control,” she said. Gimenez countered the county has been spending whatever it needed, much like it does when a hurricane arrives and scrambles the budget. “Budgets are plans. That’s all they are,” he said. “We adjusted the plan for Zika.”
The Zika exchange bled into another division, over privatization. Regalado enjoys the support of the AFL-CIO, the county’s largest labor group and an opponent of shifting government services to for-profit companies.
“If fumigation is so important,” Regalado said of Zika efforts, “why is it that Miami-Dade’s doesn’t even have a helicopter or an airplane?” Gimenez replied: “Because it’s a lot cheaper to do it that way. A helicopter is very expensive to maintain.”
This was post was updated to indicate that one of Gimenez’s sons, Julio Gimenez, no longer works for Facchina, a construction company that has pursued county contracts and performed repair work on the county-owned Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. An Gimenez spokesman said the younger Gimenez left the firm last year.