Miami-Dade County

What’s next for Regalado after losing race for Miami-Dade mayor?

Surrounded by family Miami-Dade mayoral candidate Raquel Regaldo concedes to Mayor Carlos Gimenez at her election night party at Our Lady-Lebanon Catholic Church in Miami on Tuesday.
Surrounded by family Miami-Dade mayoral candidate Raquel Regaldo concedes to Mayor Carlos Gimenez at her election night party at Our Lady-Lebanon Catholic Church in Miami on Tuesday. pfarrell@miamiherald.com

Knowing she would not be Miami-Dade County’s next mayor, Raquel Regalado woke up Wednesday for the first time in years without a campaign to lead or a radio show to host, and with her time in elected office coming quickly to a close.

Which begs the question: What’s next?

Unsurprisingly, after a lifetime in South Florida politics and six years on the Miami-Dade School Board, the daughter of Miami’s mayor says the answer involves, well, more politics.

“I’m not going home to bake cookies. I’m not that type of person,” Regalado, 42, told the Miami Herald Tuesday night after falling far short in her bid to unseat county Mayor Carlos Gimenez. “One thing is for sure, I’m not going away. This is not the end of my political career by any means.”

One quick change: She’ll return to her four-day-a week radio show on La Poderosa 670 AM on Monday (she gave up the show in June to avoid violating federal equal-time provisions governing broadcasters during elections) and her Sunday TV show, Esta Semana con Raquel, starting Nov. 20 on Mira TV.

I’m not going home to bake cookies. I’m not that type of person.

Raquel Regalado

Just as she surprised some insiders when she laid — and stuck to — plans to oppose Gimenez nearly two years ago, Regalado shocked the incumbent’s $7 million campaign by pushing him into a runoff election Tuesday. Still, Regalado trailed in the polls the entire race, and her zeal in running an expensive, lengthy and bruising campaign for a countywide post has possibly limited her path moving forward if she continues to seek local office.

Where some City Hall insiders once pegged her as a contender to become Miami’s next mayor next November should she covet her term-limited father’s post, her path is now obstructed by City Commissioner Francis Suarez and his $1.5 million war chest. Meanwhile, Regalado just hit up supporters in her county race for roughly $1.6 million — raising the possibility that the next campaign might give her biggest donors heartburn.

Incumbent Mayor Carlos Gimenez thanks his supports for his win over Raquel Regalado.

“I don’t know. I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it,” said auto magnate Norman Braman, who gave more than $140,000 to Regalado’s mayoral campaign but is supporting Suarez in Miami. “I think she did remarkably well [against Gimenez]. What she’s done is to make a name for herself now, a credible name that will give her the benefit in the future of running for office. I think she learned a lot in this race.”

Some speculated Wednesday that, after resigning her school board seat during her campaign, effective Nov. 21, she might try to win back her post and $43,000 salary in 2018, however unlikely. A more popular theory is that she’ll campaign to run for her father’s old District 4 Commission seat in Miami next year, which Suarez will have to vacate in order to qualify for the mayor’s race.

The position includes a $104,000 annual compensation package. And Regalado, who currently lives in the district, is raising two kids as a single mom and has dealt with financial problems, maintains strong support in the area. (She came within 100 votes of Gimenez among 25,000 cast in the district.)

“Whatever she does next, I’ll support her,” said Mayor Regalado. “She had an exhausting campaign. … Now she needs some time with the kids and she needs to rest and think about it. But I do know Raquel was born for politics.”

For her part, Regalado said Tuesday night that she’s in no rush to choose.

“I told my kids that whatever happens, I’ll take them to Disney World this weekend. But beyond that, we haven’t made any decisions as to what the future is,” she said. “What I will do is continue fighting for the residents of Miami-Dade County. This is not an end, it’s a beginning.”

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