Voting sucks and I hate it. Especially this year. Most of the politicians on the ballot are trash and nearly every referendum we’re asked to approve was paid for by some shadowy group trying to trick us into voting against our own interests. This year’s ballot is so FLOODED with bad choices, it might as well be called Miami Beach on a sunny day.
The Plantain was sick of being told to just grin and take it by the Democratic Party and thought it was time for Miami to have a voter’s guide that not only tells you how we think you should vote, but also acknowledges that your choices this year are disappointing, and tells you why the people you are voting for suck anyway. Cause they mostly do.
DISCLAIMER: The Plantain is unapologetically liberal. Sorry.
That means we have strongly held beliefs that guide how we see the world. We hold controversial opinions like racism is bad and Castro is dead and the environment should be saved and not everything needs to be a stadium for Christ’s sake. We probably want to see your (yes, YOUR!) taxes raised and use that money to make poor peoples’ lives better. In other words, we are, as elderly Cubans and 30-something Belen graduates keep telling us on Twitter: “Total socialistic scumbags.”
If that turns you off, then you should not take our recommendations and head over to Instagram to watch videos of people twerking on the 836 while their cars catch fire…But before you go, buy a Plantain T-Shirt cause we make less money than those guys do and could really use the cash.
So, here is our Miami 2020 Disgruntled Voter Guide:
President of the United States – Joe Biden (Obviously)
Joe Biden is nothing to get excited about. In fact, his only redeeming quality is that he is not Donald Trump. He is a bumbling geriatric running as a Bush-era Republican and it is incredibly disappointing that the Democratic Party decided he was the candidate to lead us through this critical moment in U.S. history. It is not only OKAY for you to feel and vocalize your disappointment in having to vote for Joe Biden, it is necessary, because if Biden gets elected, he needs to be pushed on issues of inequality, health care, racial justice and climate change, just to name a few. Activism doesn’t end just because a Democrat is in office (something we forgot during the Obama years) and Joe Biden cannot think he has a mandate to continue to ignore the issues that are important to us.
In a (seemingly successful) effort to win over Republican defectors like John Kasich and the Lincoln Project folks who helped start the Iraq war, Biden has spent so much time talking about how bad universal healthcare and the Green New Deal is that he might as well be screaming about it in the parking lot of La Carreta. The fact is that his handlers didn’t think it was necessary to cater to progressives because they figured we’d vote for him anyway. Well…they were right and now we’re all somehow stuck voting for someone against legalizing marijuana who won’t shut up about how much he loves fracking for some reason.
Now, obviously, Biden is better than Trump and you should vote for him without hesitation. But you should also be upset about it and not shy about making fun of the fact that he is 140 years old and can’t seem to remember where he left his glasses (they’re on his head). The Democratic Party nominated someone who I frankly wouldn’t trust to drive on the Palmetto. But luckily, Joe Biden doesn’t need to drive on the Palmetto. He just needs to…run the free world.
Election 2020 is not the time for progress, evidently. It is the time for stability, and Joe Biden is the poster old man for the status quo, not-covered-by-insurance warts and all. On the other hand, Trump is all of the things your grandparents warned you about dictators but somehow don’t recognize because, I don’t know, he doesn’t have a beard?
But make no mistake, Trump is a dictator and will do everything he can to steal this election. Joe Biden needs our support to stop him, because…Joe Biden is our only hope right now.
So, for god’s sake, vote for Joe Biden. Your country depends on it.
Miami-Dade County Mayor – Daniella Levine Cava
This is a bright spot on the ballot and I endorse Daniella Levine Cava without any reservations.
DLC is an absolute gem of a person who is smarter and more compassionate than any leader Miami-Dade County has ever had. Accordingly, I’m scared to death she will lose because Miami isn’t very good at having nice things.
Daniella genuinely cares about Miami and addressing the issues that impact its future. The main criticism levied against her by her opponent, Commissioner Esteban Bovo, is that she is a “radical,” which in Miami, means she is in favor of public transit and doesn’t want to see homeless people starve to death at the sites of what I’m sure will be future stadiums.
Esteban Bovo is a small-minded ideologue that believes there are socialists under his bed conspiring to give his grandkids free college tuition. If elected, he would be the fourth in a line of small, ego-driven “anti-Communist” Mayors who have made Miami a much worse place to live because they only believe the government should help developers or members of their own families.
We’ve had a lot of Bovos, but we’ve never had a Daniella. She would be a radical…improvement for Miami.
You can read our FULL ENDORSEMENT here.
Congress — Shit, why do I have to keep voting for Donna Shalala?
Donna Shalala is an example of everything wrong with the Democratic Party. I endorse her for Congress.
Donna Shalala should NOT be our Congressperson, and that was true two years ago when she first ran as well. But, because she has Clinton money, she entered the race and a lot of better candidates who could have grown in the role dropped out (I’m looking at you Jose Javier Rodriguez and Ken Russell). So, instead of Shalala retiring as the President of the University of Miami to spend her Winter years looking back on a career spent defending Bill Clinton’s sexual assaults and Nevin Shapiro’s philanthropic activities, she took an ego trip to Congress. And in her two years in D.C., what did Donna Shalala accomplish? She got caught breaking federal law…twice.
If the Republicans had put up someone even a little bit moderate, I would seriously advocate voting against Donna Shalala because I think a loss of one seat this cycle isn’t so terrible and the only way the Democratic Party is going to support someone better is if she loses. But the Republicans didn’t pick someone moderate, they picked Maria Elvira Salazar, who is crazy. Like Cuban-radio level crazy. And even I won’t stoop so low as to give her a national platform just to prove a point.
So vote for Donna Shalala and please, for the love of god, someone primary her in two years.
Other Congressional Races – Vote for the Democrats, I guess
Depending on where you live, you may have the option of voting for Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Frederica Wilson, or Debbie Mucarsel-Powell. Here are my takes on each:
Debbie Wasserman Schultz doesn’t care about you, but what are you going to do about it? Nothing, because the Democratic Party knows you’re not going to vote for some Broward County Republican over her.
Frederica Wilson’s legacy is that she wears hats. Seriously. In fact, her biggest Congressional accomplishment is getting Congress to let her wear hats in the Capital. I don’t know, maybe there is more to her record and I’m being unfair, but I don’t live in her district and I have a lot of these to get through. So vote for the hat lady if you can because you have no choice anyway.
Debbie Mucarsel-Powell has been a good representative and is running against our current Trump-wannabe County Mayor, Carlos A. Gimenez. Gimenez has demonstrated a willingness to overlook all of the worst qualities of the Republican party without enough self-awareness to realize that north of the Broward County line, those people he bends over backward to defend wouldn’t let him into their home through the front entrance.
Let’s end Carlos Gimenez’s political career and force him to live out the rest of his days lobbying the County on behalf of developers alongside his sons.
State Senate Races
Jose Javier Rodriguez and Javier E. Fernandez are both great. Legitimately great. In fact, my only problem with either is that JJR should have been in real Congress instead of Donna Shalala and not wasting time getting his ass kicked in an uber-Republican Tallahassee for the last two years.
Shevrin Jones is running unopposed, so who cares? Maybe write in Kanye’s name just to see how it feels?
State House of Representatives
The Florida House is what would happen if a swamp could literally catch fire. It is as conservative and closed-minded as you would expect from a governing body that has chosen to convene in Tallahassee.
So, I guess support the resistance and vote for whomever has the (D) next to their name. Are they good? I don’t know, but if I recommended voting for Donna Shalala in this article, I’m not going to start recommending Republicans now.
But I will say that if you live in Hialeah, you should enthusiastically vote for Annette Collazo because we’re friends and I know her to be SMART and unafraid to stand up for what she believes. Also, why do you still live in Hialeah?
Every Judge up for retention is a conservative ideologue and I recommend voting NO on retaining all of them.
The bad news is that if by the small chance they are not retained, DeSantis will just replace them with different conservative ideologues. The whole thing is sort of a futile exercise, so no matter how you vote, just prepare yourself for years of Conservative fuckery, including more brazen efforts to deny minorities voting rights, eat away at environmental protections, and protect the interests of the wealthiest in the state, upheld by judges as partisan and petty as the men who appointed them.
District 3 – Vote for Gepsie Metellus. Do NOT vote for Keon Hardemon
Keon Hardemon is a current City of Miami Commissioner who has used that position to enrich his lobbyist family members for years. While he has long been criticized for using his public office for personal gain, his supporters, including Luther Campbell of 2 Live Crew fame, have defended his activities recently by arguing Keon couldn’t have possibly done anything wrong, because if he had, then Katherine Fernandez Rundle would have prosecuted him.
HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Under Uncle Luke’s face-down, ass-up logic, those cops must have been just giving Darren Rainey a bubble bath when he died. Me so unimpressed.
Keon is everything wrong with Miami’s pay-to-play nepotism-based politics, and he should not be elevated to the County Commission. His opponent Gepsie Metellus would make an infinitely better Commissioner than Keon “Your Mama’s Pat To Play” Hardemon. She is an activist and leader from within the Haitian community who, as far as we know, doesn’t have any Aunts who will make a fortune from her election. That’s enough for me.
District 5 – Eileen Higgins
Oh my god, how many Diaz de la Portillas-es are there? Vote for Eileen Higgins.
District 7 – Cindy Lerner
I like Raquel Regalado. I think she is a nice person who served on the School Board effectively. But I think Cindy Lerner will be a more consistent supporter of what I hope is Mayor Levine Cava’s agenda.
District 9 – Elvis Maldonado…maybe?
Kionne McGhee is an ambitious Democratic Party faithful who has a long career ahead of him. He’s also someone who brags about having read 300 books on his Twitter bio. I think those types of ambitious, tell-you-how-much-they-read sort of people are usually ill-equipped to thrive in hyper-local positions that requires humility, a focus on constituent services, and non-partisan relationships to make sure the community is functioning properly. McGhee is currently a Florida House Member, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he ran for Federal office or Governor one day. And he may very well do well in higher office. But I’m doubtful here.
His opponent, Elvis Maldonado, is a former Homestead Councilman who seems like he might make an effective Commissioner. But honestly, I can’t find much about him, so I’m on the fence. Maybe give Elvis a shot at Commissioner and let McGhee primary Shalala next year (he’d never)?
District 9 – Luisa Santos
The only School Board race I am really passionate about is District 9 (South Dade) between Dennis Moss and Luisa Santos. Dennis Moss is a former County Commissioner who used his power and influence to advocate for a fucking waterpark in the middle of nowhere. Luisa Santos is a young entrepreneur who started Lulu’s Ice Cream and cares about the community. I think she will inject some much-needed vitality and fresh ideas into the School Board and hope she wins.
District 3 – Lucia Baez-Geller
District 5 – Mara Zapata
Honestly, those are based on the recommendations of Leah Weston, who puts out an excellent voter guide that you can find HERE and who is much smarter than me.
State Constitutional Amendments
Amendment 1 – Citizen Requirement to Vote in Florida Election – No!
This is the worst type of Republican fuckery in that it is equal parts performative and racist. This would add a Constitutional Amendment that says only U.S. citizens can vote. That’s totally useless since only citizens are allowed to vote as it is. Get that shit out of here you’re wasting my time.
Amendment 2 – Raising Florida’s Minimum Wage – Yes!
Florida’s minimum wage is $8.56 an hour. This would raise it to $10.00 an hour starting September 2021 with it increasing $1.00 every year until it reaches $15.00 an hour in 2026.
The fact is it is too expensive to live in Miami, and increasingly everywhere else in the state, because wages have not kept up with the cost of living. If you don’t think this is necessary or will kill jobs, then you’ve fallen into the trap of thinking the profits of the folks at the top are more important than workers being able to afford things like food and medical care and you can fuck right off with your whole “thanks to the essential workers” performance a few months ago.
Amendment 3 – All Voters Vote in Primary Elections for State Legislature, Governor, and Cabinet – No!
Currently, in order to vote in a political party’s primary in Florida, you have to be a member of that political party. This amendment seeks to create a sort of quasi-open primary for State elections where the top two winners, regardless of party, advance to the general ballot.
I think this is stupid and will only result in the Democratic and Republican parties pressuring non-establishment or up-and-coming voices to drop out of the race over the fear of splitting a party’s vote, because it may mean there is no representative of that party on the general election ballot.
Amendment 4 – Voter Approval for Constitutional Amendments – No!
More Republican fuckery brought to you by the same party that has been fighting a constitutional amendment to allow mostly Black and Brown citizens to have their voting rights restored after serving their time for a felony. This amendment would require constitutional amendments to be approved in TWO elections in order to take effect. This just adds to the cost and time required to make amendments to the Florida Constitution, and gives the Republicans that are perpetually in charge of this god-awful state a second chance to stop citizen initiatives that reach the improbable and unreasonably expensive goal of being approved by a majority of the yokels that make up the Florida electorate. Get the fuck out of here.
Amendment 5 – Limitations on Homestead Assessments – No!
Florida is underfunded because we don’t have a state income tax. This amendment would extend a right that already exists for homeowners and allow them to keep their property tax burden low by limiting how much property taxes can be raised each year. This would theoretically protect homeowners from tax increases caused by their property value rising very quickly.
Boo fucking hoo. Your property is worth too much money so we should protect you from having to pay taxes? Limiting how property taxes are collected also means that the primary source of tax revenue for the state and local communities is severely impeded.
My friend, Leah Weston takes the not-unreasonable position that this should not be a constitutional provision because it is a tax policy that should be debated by the Florida legislature. I think that’s fair, but I say vote No because property taxes should not be further limited. Rising home values give property owners many benefits, including the ability to leverage the increased value of their home. Letting boomers who bought a waterfront mansion in Coconut Grove on a librarian’s salary in 1975 continue to pay essentially nothing in property taxes places all of the burdens for supporting a community on newer, younger residents.
Of course, what we should really do is take a 7% income tax on all earnings and use that money to fund most of the social services and infrastructure projects this state and its local communities desperately need. But that will never happen because of…socialism?
Amendment 6 – Ad Valorem Tax Discount for Spouses of Certain Deceased Veterans Who Had Permanent, Combat-Related Disabilities – No!
This adds an existing protection for the widows of veterans to retain a tax benefit after their spouse passes. Even if you think this is a good idea, why are we writing tax laws into the Florida Constitution? The protection is already codified in Florida’s statutes, so this is duplicative and will just make it damn near impossible to eliminate or amend if god-forbid we decide we need tax revenue to fund community services.
Miami-Dade County Charter Amendments
Referendum 1 – Office of Inspector General – Yes!
There is already an Office of Inspector General charged with overseeing County financial and whistleblower complaints. This would put that position in the Charter and make it much more difficult for corrupt politicians to eliminate this oversight. It also gives the OIG jurisdiction to investigate municipalities located within the County, where lots of shenanigans and general tomfoolery tend to occur.
This referendum is vitally important at a County level, especially if Keon Hardemon and Bovo get elected as Commissioner and Mayor, respectively, and it’s important throughout the County, where lots of Keons and Bovos already hold municipal office.
Referendum 2 – Filling Vacancies for Commission/Mayor – Yes!
This is a procedural fix that saves the County hundreds of thousands of dollars by not requiring it to hold a separate special election when a vacancy is caused by a politician resigning to run for a different office. Instead, if approved, the vacant seat would be voted on during the already-scheduled next election.
Referendum 3 – Nonpartisan Election of County Sheriff, Property Appraiser, Tax Collector and Supervisor of Elections – Yes!
This would make (assuming a subsequent State law is also changed) the local elected positions of Sheriff, Property Appraiser, Tax Collector, and Supervisor of Elections non-partisan. While there is something appealing in knowing where the Supervisor of Elections or Sheriff stands, in an ideal world these should be non-partisan…whatever that means.
OH MY GOD THAT TOOK FOREVER TO PUT TOGETHER
Buy a fricken shirt or mug from me or something.
Oh, and this is my 500th article! Buy a damn mug.