Dirty Politics are in play in the Fort Lauderdale Mayoral race.
Today was the last day to file as a candidate for the Fort Lauderdale City Commission.
In the Mayoral race, as expected, incumbent Mayor Jack Seiler had registered to run for re-election, and his nemesis, Earl Rynerson, also registered. We all thought that would be it, two mayoral candidates, with Rynerson trying to make the case that Seiler should be replaced.
But at the last minute, an unknown, Gabriel Crimi, showed up to register as a mayoral candidate, with just fifteen minutes until the registration ended. Everyone that follows these things said “who in the hell is Gabriel Crimi?
After some investigation by me (and others), things began to smell.
Crimi had contributed to Rynerson in Rynerson’s last try at mayor in 2009. Had Crimi abandoned Rynerson and was giving running for mayor a try himself?
The answer was no.
He had been put up to run by Rynerson. With three candidates in the race, the elections would require a primary, and that would take place at the same time as the Republican Presidential Primary, in January.
( I’ve been told by others that they were approached by Rynerson to act as that sham candidate, but declined.)
The theory was that Rynerson had a set image as a budget hawk, ready to slash and burn a bloated City budget. The Republican primary voters would like that and give Rynerson a better chance to defeat the popular incumbent Seiler.
I called Rynerson who didn’t have time to talk. I tried calling Crimi, just voice mail. So I decided to take a ride to his address he used on his mayoral registration form.
It was already dark when I found his house. I had a little trepidation, but I walked up to the door and knocked.
When he opened the door, I introduced myself as Tim Smith, the former Commissioner who writes a citywide blog on Fort Lauderdale. I asked if he was Gabriel Crimi, the guy who is running for Mayor. He said he was, that he had met me before, and he seemed to be getting nervous.
I said “well let me take a quick picture of you”, and he smiled. [sorry for the blur, I didn't think of taking two !]
Then I asked, “are you a real candidate, or a sham candidate for Earl Rynerson”.
Crimi seemed to know the gig was up. “Actually, I’m on the way to meet up with Earl and Thornie (former Victoria Park President and Rynerson supporter) right now”, and we’re going to talk about just that”!
I asked if his running for Mayor was a put up job, just to force the race into a primary for Earl’s benefit, and that he would end up supporting Rynerson.”We’re going to talk about that too”, he said.
I left him looking perplexed and troubled, probably realizing he had been used as a dupe, and I drove home to share this ugly political tale with you.
I suspect I’ll have a talk with Ryerson and Thornie soon, and I’ll let you know what they say….