Miami-Dade County

Braman wants to test Raquel Regalado’s chances for county mayor

As school board member Raquel Regalado considers a run for Miami-Dade mayor, her potential candidacy has reportedly caught the interest of the county’s wealthiest activist: Norman Braman.

The Miami auto magnate in recent weeks was preparing a poll on countywide matters, including how Regalado would fare in a 2016 mayoral run, according to two people familiar with Braman’s plan. Braman declined to comment on the Regalado question, saying: “I’ve commissioned polls before on county issues, and I’m contemplating doing one now.”

Regalado, a radio and television host who is also the daughter of current Miami mayor Tomás Regalado, has seen her profile rise in recent weeks as she led the charge against a failed measure to raise taxes for a new county courthouse. Earlier this week, she confirmed she was considering a run for county mayor, as well as a bid to succeed her father in 2017. Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez has said he plans to seek a second full term in 2016.

Braman is not known as a high-profile Gimenez opponent. But he has used his fortune and visibility to exert influence in county matters throughout the years.

Braman is probably best known for financing the 2011 recall of then-Mayor Carlos Alvarez largely over Alvarez’s support of the 2009 financial deal of Marlins Park. Gimenez opposed the Marlins plan as a county commissioner, and Braman’s recall effort propelled Gimenez into the mayor’s office in 2011.

Gimenez and Braman ended up on either side of a fight over the mayor’s ultimately successful effort to steer tax subsidies to the Miami Dolphins’ Sun Life Stadium. Braman opposed the plan in 2013, and the team took out full-page ads blasting Braman’s own government deal as an NFL owner in the 1980s.

On Thursday, a Gimenez spokesman brushed off the poll news, which reportedly had reached the Gimenez inner circle last week.

“Mayor Carlos Gimenez is focused on governing,” said Michael Hernández, the mayor’s communications chief. “He’s not concerned with any potential candidate looking to face him in two years.”

Regalado declined to comment. She and Braman are working together to push for a new school in Miami that would cater to wealthier downtown residents who aren’t sending their children to the county’s half-full Booker T. Washington high school in nearby Overtown.