If not for Lorenzo, the guy many are tapping as Mitt Romney's vice presidential candidate might never have gotten out of West Miami. [Marco] Rubio acknowledged as much after becoming Florida's first Cuban-American House speaker in 2007; he thanked just two political mentors during his inauguration: Jeb Bush and Al Lorenzo.Joan McCarter got a hold of the guy in charge of the Miami-Dade party, Richard Lydecker, who flatly denied the rumors:
MD DEC has not considered Mr. Lorenzo for any services of any kind. We have no further comment.He also cc'd his lawyer on that email, which was just weird. But in any case, that was as blanket a denial as possible.
And completely false.
Follow me below the fold for the full scoop, and why this issue matters so much.
Richard Lydecker aggressively pushed to hire Al Lorenzo
At a meeting with county party officials early this year, as relayed in meeting notes provided to us by a source, skeptical attendees pressed Lydecker on plans to hire Lorenzo to run the party's absentee ballot program. Lydecker pushed back strongly, claiming that Lorenzo was a Democrat, had worked on his partner Manny Diaz's mayoral campaign (Lydecker's law partner), and had handled the absentee ballot program for Obama in 2008.
The attendees backed off because of the claim that Lorenzo had worked for Obama in 2008 doing absentee ballot work, and since Lydecker intended to secure funding for the program—$50,000 from Sen. Bill Nelson, $50,000 from the Florida Democratic Party and $100,000 from the Obama campaign. And really, the guy that gets the cash gets the biggest say in such matters.
These meeting notes buttress the claims made by two other sources that Al Lorenzo was, in fact, all but hired to run the absentee ballot program. And the notion that Lorenzo is a Democrat is ludicrous given his close relationship with pretty much every Cuban-American Republican of note in the state of Florida.
2008 Miami-Dade Democratic absentee ballot fiasco
But did Lorenzo really do work for the Obama campaign in 2008? I decided to check. You can do the same: Go to this site, then search for "Quantum Results" (which is Lorenzo's consulting firm).
It turns out that Lorenzo did in fact work for the Obama effort—a $50,000 contract for "GOTV Telephone Calls." Now look at all his other clients—Marco Rubio, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Mario Diaz-Balart and the Republican Party of Florida. All Republicans.
So how did Lorenzo end up working for the Obama effort? Well, first of all, he wasn't hired by the Obama campaign (though he claims that on his Facebook page), but by the Democratic Executive Committee of Florida. That is, the state party. And this story is giving us a strong hint at the incompetence of those local Democrats.
Now the spending report claims that Lorenzo's firm did GOTV calls, not absentee ballot work as Lydecker claimed. For Lorenzo's sake, I hope he had nothing to do with the Miami-Dade absentee ballot effort. Check it out:
Here's the Miami-Dade 2008 presidential election results. Democrats outnumbered Republicans in Miami-Dade by 172,000 votes. In November 2008, Democrats had a 14-point lead in voter registration in the country.
Obama won the county by 139,000 votes. Yet in absentee ballots, Obama lost to McCain by 30,000 votes.
So if Lydecker really thought that Lorenzo had worked the absentee ballot program for Obama in 2008, what in those results would lead him to think that yes, let's hire him to make a mess of things again?
Fact is, Lorenzo is close to Lydecker's law partner, and that was pretty much the only qualification he needed. The fact that Lorenzo no longer appears to be in line to do the absentee ballot program has less to do with his disqualifications, and more to do with the fact that he is in the midst of ... an absentee ballot scandal.
Why it all matters
Given the way that Florida works, Democrats need to run up the score in Miami-Dade County in order to make-up for losses elsewhere in the state. As Armando wrote:
In 2008, President Obama won Florida by 105,000 votes. And he won Miami-Dade by 140,000 votes (of 800,000 total votes cast in Florida's most populous county). Without a big win in Miami-Dade County, Barack Obama would not have won Florida. This is true for 2012 as well.Every absentee vote will matter. That Lorenzo would even be considered is a sign that the Democratic Party is in terrible hands in one of the most important places (for Democrats) in the country.
Because Florida, and especially Miami-Dade County, can be this decisive, then great care must be taken to ensure that every resource is used as effectively as possible by the Democratic Party there. Hiring GOP Rubio crony Al Lorenzo would be indefensible as a political move.