He’s baaaack! David ‘Nine Lives’ Rivera is running for Florida state rep, again

Former Congressman David “Nine Lives” Rivera just sucked all the air out of the Florida state primary this August.

Rivera surprised everybody when he qualified Friday to run for state rep in the open 119 District against a bunch of other Republicans who are suddenly in an interesting, nationally-watched race.

That’s because David Rivera is Miami’s original and favorite Republican bad boy — Alex Diaz de la Portilla can go back to being No. 2 for now — and was always good for a scandalous headline. He was once named “one of the most corrupt members of congress” by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

But whether it’s funding the O.G. ghost candidate, Justin Lamar Sternad, in the Dem primary to weaken his eventual opponent, Joe Garcia, or shipping his cohort and on-again, off-again girlfriend Ana Sol Alliegro off to Nicaragua, funneling GOP monies to his late mother’s inactive company, misusing campaign funds or concealing money he received while working as a consultant for a dog track seeking voter approval for slot machines — accusations against David Rivera never stick.

Read related: Ana Sol Alliegro is back — with a vengeance and a story

He’s allegedly been under one FBI investigation after another — but has never been charged with anything.

In 2020, he was accused of taking $50 million from the Nicolás Maduro Venezuelan government to lobby on behalf of the state-controlled oil industry, which might not be illegal but would be a 180-degree turn from his public stance against totalitarian regimes.

And this past March, Rivera lost his appeal of a $456,000 fine from the Federal Elections Commission for the 2012 ghost candidate shenanigans. It is one of the top-15 largest fines ever handed down by the FEC.

Ooooooh. Wait, wait, wait. Is that why he’s running again? He needs a new source of income?

A state rep from 2002 to 2010, Rivera was elected to Congress for one term before he got beat by Garcia in 2012 in the newly-drawn 26th District, despite the ghost candidate. He ran again in the 2014 primary but lost to Carlos Curbelo, getting only 7.5% of the vote. Two years later, he ran for state house, but lost to former State Rep. Robert Asencio — by 54 votes. Then he said he was going to run in District 105. But he didn’t.

In addition to his legislative office, Rivera has served state committeeman for the Republican Party of Florida and as executive director for the Republican Party of Miami-Dade. Pre Proud Boys (more on that later).

He’s also BFF’s with former Tallahassee roommate Marco Rubio, who is facing his first real challenge this year from Val Demmings and is probably not too happy about this new development.

“I have served this community as a state representative and congressman for 10 years,” Rivera says in a video uploaded to YouTube on Friday. “Whether at the United Nations or Radio Martí, I have always fought to defend human rights and freedom for Cuba.”

Sounds like he’s joining the patriotic, anti-socialism bandwagon. And could there be a better time for a David Rivera comeback?

In the message — which shows a slideshow that includes a photo of a 12-year-old Nine Lives with President Ronald Reagan — Rivera seems to be campaigning more against the Miami Herald than any actual candidate. Maybe because he has to cast doubt on the Venezuelan business story, which could hurt him more than any wannabe.

“For decades, I have fought the lies of the Miami Herald. Now, the Herald tries to fabricate another lie, linking me falsely to the Venezuelan government,” he says in the 29-second video, a length that makes it perfect for TV. “But I have faith that voters know my record and will reject the Herald’s new lie.”

True or false, the Maduro connection going to come up — again and again.

Read related: David Rivera’s ‘Maduro money’ spread to Esteban Bovo, Alex Diaz de la Portilla

“If anything, it emboldens my campaign,” said Juan Carlos Porras, a former legislative aide who worked with State Rep. Alex Rizo the last two years. “I’d like to talk to any South Florida voter to see if they’d vote for someone who’s worked for the Venezuelan government.”

Porras is one of five Republican hopefuls who want to beat Rivera to the wide open, newly-drawn 119 general. He’s been campaigning for weeks and qualified with more than 700 petitions. He says he’s knocked on 3,000 doors himself.

“Every single voter has highlighted that we need new blood, new people,” Porras told Ladra, adding that Rivera represents “the old and negative part of the party.

“And it’s not what people want anymore.”

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Rivera told Ladra that his video statement was all he would say for now. He will have more to say next week and is expected to be interviewed by Ninoska Perez on Tuesday.

“When the bull sees the red cape, he charges,” he texted Ladra, literally calling himself a bull. “It’s time for the Herald to pay the piper.”

Porras has raised $44,378, according to the latest campaign report. Also in the race: Miami-Dade Area 11 Community Council Vice Chair Ashley Alvarez has raised $3,400, personal injury attorney Roberto Gonzalez has raised $98,000 and loaned himself $17,000, hotelier Ricky Tsay — who would be the first Guatemalan-Tawainese-American elected to the state House — has loaned himself $150,000 and raised $8,045, and teacher Jose Soto has raised $2,375.

There’s a Democrat named Gabriel Gonzalez, but whoever wins the Aug. 23 primary in this Republican stronghold is likely the new state rep.

Which could be the old state rep.