HAVE I MENTIONED LATELY HOW ‘SPECIAL’ MIAMI IS?…. Having been born and raised in Miami, Fla., before
escaping moving in the mid-90s, I have a special fondness for news stories that highlight South Florida’s unique political culture.
For example, David M. Rivera is generating some headlines this week for some unusual elements to his background. Rivera is a Florida state representative, and the head of the Miami area’s Republican Party, who’s currently running for the open, competitive U.S. House seat in Florida’s 25th district.
And what is it, exactly, that makes Rivera interesting? Nicole Allan offers a helpful summary of things we’ve learned about the candidate this week.
* In 1994, a woman named Jenia Dorticos filed for a domestic-violence restraining order against a man named David M. Rivera. Dorticos dropped the restraining order after a month and did not file criminal charges. Rep. Rivera, whose middle initial is M, claims he has never met Dorticos, who, when contacted, claims she has never met him. She filed the order against a different David M. Rivera, she says.
* So what’s the problem, then? Dorticos’ mother is a Cuban TV personality who is friendly with Rivera and has worked for his campaign. A Miami woman claims that ten years ago, Dorticos and Rivera attended a party at her house as a couple, along with Dorticos’ mother (Dorticos and Rivera deny this claim).
* In his first campaign for the Florida House in 2002, Rivera faced a Republican opponent named Rainier Gonzalez. A few days before the primary, Gonzalez released a flier with a photo of Dorticos’ petition for a restraining order along with side-by-side photos of Rivera and a woman with a black eye.
* Around the same time, Rivera was involved in a fender-bender on a Florida highway — with a truck carrying Gonzalez’s attack ads against him. Rivera claims that he wanted to retrieve his own fliers, which the truck was also carrying, because he didn’t know the company that made them was also working for Gonzalez’s campaign. An alternate account holds that Rivera forced the truck off the road in order to stall delivery of Gonzalez’s ads past the 6 p.m. mailing deadline.
Ordinarily, candidates accused of domestic assault and running trucks off the highway to cover up his misdeeds have some trouble getting elected. But Miami is Miami, and it’s likely all this week has done is improve Mr. Rivera’s name recognition.
On a related note, if Rivera’s name sounds familiar, he’s the same guy who co-owned a home in Tallahassee with Marco Rubio, before they stopped making payments and the home went into foreclosure (a detail Rivera was less than honest about when first asked).
Allan notes, “Campaign scandals are weirder in Florida,” a sentiment I heartily endorse. There’s a reason Carl Hiaasen’s novels are so funny — they really don’t have to stretch reality very much.