Miami District 2 race pits short term incumbent vs seven other wannabes

There are eight candidates vying for the Miami Commission seat in District 2 — which covers the shoreline from Coconut Grove up through Brickell and downtown to Morningside — in what may be a testament to the vulnerability of short term incumbent Sabina Covo, who was elected in a special election last February to replace Ken Russell, who resigned to run for Congress.

It’s almost as if it were an open seat.

Covo has been a disappointment to many voters and her boasts about cracking down on corruption are downright hilarious when you see the picture of her next to Commissioner Joe Carollo at some event at the Tower Theater, which Pollo Joe took over from Miami Dade College. Then you read her campaign finance reports and you see the same names that give to Carollo and Commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla, who was arrested in September on public corruption charges, including bribery, money laundering and unlawful compensation.

Between her campaign account and her Dream Miami political action committee, Covo has raised more than $675,000, according to the most recent reports. This includes a $10,000 bundle from developer Sergio Rok’s multiple companies, $5,000 each from developer Jeffrey Berkowitz and Ray and Rene Gonzalez, owners of the transportation services contracted by the county and many cities, another $5,000 from lobbyist/consultant Barbara Hardemon, Miami-Dade Commissioner Keon Hardemon‘s aunt, and from Russell Faibisch, the co-founder of the Ultra Music Festival, and from Aabad Melwani, the operator of the Rickenbacker Marina, at least $4,000 from developer Tibor Hollo and $3,350 from multiple lawyers at Bilzin Sumberg, including lobbyist Al Dotson and Anthony De Yurre.

Read related: Commissioner Sabina Covo billboard boasts fight vs corruption — what fight?

She reportedly refunded the $15,000 given to her a billboard company trying to get approval for LED signs in Miami parks, which she ultimately voted down. But her Dream Miami PAC also has a $10,000 contribution from former Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, who lobbies for the billboards.

Even donations that are not bundled are from the same ol’ special interests. That includes lobbyists like Iris Escarra, Carlos Lago, Ron Book, Javier Fernandez, Manny Prieguez, Luis Gazitua. And then the non lobbyists are mostly identified as real estate investors or developers, many with projects in the city.

Not a good look for someone who boasts she is a reformer.

What Covo really is, is a Christian Ulvert special, being pushed by the Miami-Dade Democratic Party, reportedly being groomed for higher office. The thinking goes that it didn’t work for Russell because he’s not a Hispanic woman.

For now, everyone is talking about a recent poll that has Covo and longtime activist and banker Damian Pardo heading into the runoff. Pardo, one of the original SaveDADE’s (now SAVE) founders, is, unfortunately, also Carollo’s appointment to the city’s LGBTQ Advisory Committee. Carollo has also given financial support to Pardo’s Gay 8 Festival. That’s why he is one of the platinum sponsors. Eso cae mal.

Pardo is also practically self-funding the race. He has loaned himself $165,000 of the $252,800 in his campaign account, according to the most recently filed finance reports. He has a lot of small donations from teachers, architects, retail employees and other regular Joes. And there’s no obvious bundling. But there are some interesting maximum contributions.

Former Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas gave Pardo $3,000 between his own and his business or family accounts. Former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, Miami Beach Commissioner Ricky Arriola, former Miami City Manager Joe Arriola and political consultant Alex Miranda, who is also working the campaign, each gave $1,000.

Read related: Miami Commissioner Sabina Covo disappoints, faces seven challengers

James Torres, president of the Downtown Neighbors Alliance, reportedly comes in third in the poll. That’s probably because he already has a base of 30,000 downtown residents. He is also in third place in fundraising, with $52,615 at last count. Attorney Eddy Leal, former counsel to Mayor Francis Suarez comes in fourth in the poll and the money race, with $20,175. The other candidates are in single digits and haven’t raised even $7,000.

And Covo knows who her two biggest threats are. That’s why her TV ads attack both Torres and Pardo and nobody else.

The biggest attack on Covo comes via documentary filmmaker, podcaster and political commentator on the loose Billy Corbin and Because Miami with a video that makes a parody of the Lola song by The Kinks. It also pokes fun at the time when Covo “forgot” the pledge of allegiance at her first meeting.

“Endorsed by the Dems of Miami-Dade, where they’re obviously comfy with more of the same freaking bozos. B. O. Z. O. Bozos.” Sing along everybody. “She’s completely unqualified for this gig. Yeah, she’s just DLP in a fancy wig. Oh, that’s Covo. Please don’t vote for Covo. No, don’t vote for Cohhh-vohhh.”

Thanks, Billy, for ruining a perfectly good song forever.