LG Jeanette Nuñez flexes, intimidates in Miami-Dade School Board race

Political Cortadito was the first to tell everyone that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and his team — principally Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez, because she is from here — recruited hardline Republicans to challenge three Miami-Dade School Board members that didn’t toe the GOP line against mandated COVID-19 facemasks.

Well, now they’ve doubled down with digital video ads trashing School Board Member Marta Perez, who said her supporters and longtime CPA have been intimidated into abandoning her.

“The first bomb came right before she declared,” Perez said, referring to Monica Colluci, a 26-year veteran teacher who also served as Special Assistant to the Lieutenant Governor, South Florida Regional Representative, from February of 2019 to August of 2020. The bomb: CPA Jose “Pepe” Riesco, her longtime campaign treasurer over multiple years, called her and told her he had to go to her house to talk.

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“I have to drop you as a client. It’s only business,” he told her, according to Perez. But she knows it’s because Riesco, also does the campaign finance reports for a bunch of Republican PACs, including Jobs and Prosperity for Florida, which is Nuñez’s PAC, which has paid for at least two hit pieces on Perez.

On May 24, her campaign finance reports show, Perez paid Riesco — who had been named her treasurer in January of 2021 — $4,550. That was the last entry for them. It was also the same day Colucci filed her appointment of campaign treasurer.

Guess who it was. Yep, Riesco, who did not return a call from Ladra.

“That just added insult to injury,” Perez said.

But it didn’t end there.

Perez said a local elected official who had already endorsed her — had signed an endorsement card and everything — also called her and told her he had to come over to her house. She knew that wasn’t good news. He told her that if he didn’t take back the endorsement, he wouldn’t get a single thing passed in Tallahassee.

And her donor pool has dried up.

“People who usually support me do not answer my calls,” Perez told Ladra. “No quieren saber de mi.

“The intimidation is on every level.”

Everyone is afraid of what Nuñez can do if they support Perez. She has been front and center, basically taking Colucci by the hand to events and interviews. Both the LG and the candidate spoke to Tomas Regalado on his show July 16. In fact, Nuñez spoke more than the candidate. It was really more an interview with her than with Colucci, who at least got to give her ballot number.

Read related: Gov. Ron DeSantis is only pro parental choice when it’s politically convenient

“Education for us has been one of our priorities since we were first elected,” Nuñez said, adding that the transparency of the curriculum and books used is a new issue. Parents discovered things when their kids were going to school virtually during the pandemic. “They were shocked,” Nuñez said.

“It’s very important that our children receive an education and not an indoctrination, which is what we are seeing not only in this state but all over the country,” Nuñez said.

In one breath, she praised teachers and in the next said that the governor’s office has to “make sure teachers are teaching what is correct,” instead of pushing “an agenda that many parents are not in favor of.”

Those parents have choices. They can opt out of sexual education classes, which is what the book issue was in Miami-Dade last month, when two text books were banned for all of a week because of their factual content. They can put their kids in private, parochial schools. But what they cannot do is silence the majority of parents who want their children taught everything.

Colucci basically regurgitated everything that Nuñez said about parental choice and transparency with books. “That is the most important thing, supporting parents and letting them decide what is best for their kids, not a political agenda,” Colucci said on the show.

Nuñez said she was proud to support Colucci, who she has known for many years. “She is an exemplary teacher,” Nuñez said. “She has the values and principles of the community, which I think is important.”

Wait a minute. Shouldn’t kids get values and principles — and context for what they’ve learned — at home? One thing does not exclude the other.

Perez is genuinely scared that she will lose her seat because Colucci is the DeSantis candidate. So much so that she put out a mailer last month with photos of her and DeSantis — implying his support — and calling herself a “steadfast conservative leader.”

There’s even a picture of her with Ronald Reagan on it.

DeSantis has had his attorneys send her a “cease and desist” letter. Perez has said that the disinformation they are sending about her is disgraceful.

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The governor has also endorsed Roberto Alonso, who was recruited to run against Perla Tabares Hantman, who decided to retire instead of get into an ugly race, as part of a larger effort to get more control over school boards. In total, DeSants has endorsed 29 local school board candidates across the state. He calls them his “pro-parent, student first” slate.

“Our school board members are on the frontlines of defending our students and standing up for parental rights,” DeSantis said last week when he announced the last three endorsements. “These 29 candidates are committed to advancing a bold education agenda in Florida.”

They are more likely committed to serve his agenda.