Like father, like son? Tomás N. Regalado certainly hopes so.
More than 20 years after his father made the jump from Miami media member to politician, the eldest son of Miami’s mayor is hoping to follow in Tomás P. Regalado’s footsteps. The younger Regalado acknowledged in an interview that after months of hedging he’s decided to run to represent the city’s third district, which stretches from West Brickell through Little Havana.
“This is the city I grew up in. I want to do everything I can to make it better, to make my kids love it as much as I do,” he said. “I want to be the voice of the future.”
The campaign — which figures to plod a bruising road to election day on Nov. 7 — will be his first. Zoraida Barreiro, Joe Carollo, Alex Dominguez, Olidia “Lee” Hernandez, Alfonso Leon, Miguel Soliman, Daniel Suarez, and José Suárez have already filed campaign paperwork.
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This is the city I grew up in. I want to do everything I can to make it better
Known to many as Tommy, the 43-year-old producer and reporter for TV Martí has long worked in the family trade. Like his father, sister and late mother, he has spent decades behind a microphone and in front of a camera talking about the day’s news and current events.
But by launching a campaign, Regalado is finally entering the other family business.
Dating back to 1996, the mayor’s wife served as his campaign treasurer before her sudden death in 2008, and then her daughter after her. Raquel Regalado was elected twice to the Miami-Dade School Board and campaigned unsuccessfully last year for county mayor. Their younger brother, Jose, has worked as a paid social media consultant, videographer and photographer for the family’s political committee.
Regalado’s family name and political machine give him an advantage over most candidates, though he enters a race that already features the wife of a county commissioner and Carollo’s own brother. He’s already indicated that he intends to shed his nickname in order to run as Tomás (N.) Regalado.
“In some ways the support for him will be a referendum on his father,” said Sean Foreman, a political science professor at Barry University. “If he can keep his name attached to his father’s reputation he’ll have a strong chance of winning the seat.”
But Regalado — who aside from a flap involving his involvement in an aborted reality show about Miami’s police has managed to stay out of political controversy — says the name may be among only a few aspects of the family machine that he taps into. He says he plans on picking his own political team, and won’t include his family on his campaign payroll.
“I’d just rather do this my way,” says the candidate.
On the campaign trail, the younger Regalado said he plans to focus on the cost of living as neighborhoods become unaffordable for working class families, and on the looming rezoning of Little Havana. He said he also wants to find a way to spur business on Calle Ocho by encouraging the crowds of tourists who visit Domino Park and Ball and Chain to linger longer and meander farther east and west down the iconic strip.
That all sounds good to the mayor, who says he’s “excited” and “very proud” that his son wants to enter local politics. But, he said first things first.
“I told him you need to be a very proactive commissioner in the district and understand that you vote for the whole city of Miami,” Regalado said. “But first you have to win.”