Last Updated on September 22, 2023
A political outsider who was born in communist Cuba and became a U.S. citizen could be on the verge of upending the long-entrenched political interests that control Florida’s Miami-Dade County. Alex Otaola – a fierce anti-communist who has risen to local and national prominence through his YouTube-based show Hola Ota-Ola! – has confounded the long-entrenched political establishment in Florida’s most populated county by announcing his candidacy for the all-powerful position of County Mayor.
Although the election for Mayor of Miami-Dade County is nonpartisan, liberal Democrat Daniella Levine Cava is seeking a second term in a county where Republicans have made very substantial gains in recent election cycles. President Donald Trump over-performed in the county in 2020, receiving 45% of the vote – while Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis actually won the longtime liberal Democrat stronghold with nearly 20% of the vote in 2022.
Otaola, a flamboyant personality who is combining his ardent anti-communism with a robust reform agenda, is a wild card in a race that will be decided in two stages; an initial primary in August, followed by a runoff between the two top vote-getters on November 5th, 2024—coinciding with the presidential election.
The Cuban-American talk show host’s campaign platform includes economic growth, job creation, public safety, education, and transportation. “We need a Miami-Dade in which everyone feels safe and secure. We must renounce the ‘soft-on-crime’ policies we see destroying communities like New York and California. We must aggressively enforce the law,” Otaola said.
“Our children should be taught our constitutional values, as well as our heritage. We will not allow the public schools to push race, sex, or gender dogma to our children. As Mayor, I will continue to work to return decision-making power to parents regarding their children’s education. Concerned parents cannot, and must not, be regarded as domestic terrorists,” Otaola commented.
He also addressed the lack of affordable housing, “I am committed to implementing lasting solutions that promote affordable housing for all residents. Our plan is to facilitate new constructions and affordable housing projects, making rent more affordable and offering residents the opportunity to become homeowners.”
Otaola – whose strident anti-communism and entertaining net-based daily show has brought him local, national, and even international prominence – was recently featured in a documentary entitled Influencer.
An outspoken supporter of President Donald Trump, Otaola organized a number of highly successful caravans in the run-up to the 2020 election. The insurgent candidate has scheduled a similar caravan which will meet at Tropical Park (Miami) for an early show of strength this Sunday, September 24th at 2 P.M.
While incumbent Mayor Daniella Levine Cava has floated polls showing her holding a comfortable lead in the prospective race, more experienced political observers believe those poll results are suspect and that Cava has been promoting them in order to discourage a challenge from former Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Giménez, who is now a Republican Congressman representing Florida’s 28th District.
Sources tell National File that Giménez, who was Cava’s predecessor as Mayor of Miami-Dade, is not planning a candidacy to return to his old job. Giménez was among the majority of Florida members of Congress to endorse President Donald Trump over Republican Governor Ron DeSantis for President in April of 2023.
Seasoned political observers believe Cava’s Achilles’ heel lies in the property tax issue.
Using political sleight of hand, Cava has announced a cut in property tax rates with great fanfare—yet, at the same time, property valuations are skyrocketing. Rather than a drop in property taxes, the property tax bill Miami-Dade residents will receive early next year will reflect an increase in the amount due from each property owner, thanks to higher valuations.
Otaola has moved aggressively to exploit this sensitive issue.
Although party identification plays no formal role in the nonpartisan election of a Mayor, partisan politics plays an important role in the crucial first-round primary in August of 2024.
Other than Otaola, only one other Republican has declared for Mayor—Mayor Manny Cid of Miami Lakes (a city of only 31,000 residents) has neither the name identification nor the potential financial resources to mount a serious campaign.
In an election in which 60.2% of the voters will be Hispanic-American, Otaola is the candidate with the greatest upside potential, as well as the greatest fundraising potential based on his vast internet audience.
Indeed, the charismatic Otaola has gone out of his way to accentuate his status as a “non-politician.” In fact, his campaign slogan, “Let’s Do It Differently!,” underlines both his outsider status and his “outside the box” reform strategy in the Mayor’s race.
In a clear bid to win the votes of both younger voters and libertarians, Otaola has strongly supported a statewide constitutional amendment that would legalize the sale and use of cannabis for non-medical reasons. Florida legalized the use and sale of medicinal marijuana by constitutional amendment in 2019.
“By legalizing the use, taxation, and licensed sale of marijuana, we can not only generate millions of dollars in revenues in order to improve our education system but also regulate cannabis being legally sold to ensure that it is not laced with fentanyl or other dangerous drugs,” said Otaola at an event in September.
“The people of Florida know that there is a multi-million black market in the sale of marijuana outside the state’s medicinal marijuana regulations. It is time to harness this economic activity for the public good and regulate it for the public safety,” Otaola continued.
Otaola has also been an outspoken critic of Mayor Levine Cava’s failure to crack down on the scourge of child sex trafficking.
According to federal statistics, Miami-Dade is the second largest hub of child sex trafficking activities in the State of Florida—with large tourist hotels near Miami International Airport being identified as the site of much of this illegal activity.
Otaola has pledged that if elected, he would form a federal, state, and county task force to combat the child sex trafficking that state and federal authorities have clearly reported continues in Miami-Dade County.
“Our children are not for sale,” Otaola added.