The telegenic Miami mayor, 45, filed paperwork Wednesday night with the Federal Election Commission to launch a presidential campaign, and on Thursday morning the only Latino in the race released a campaign video titled, “I’m Running.” A formal address is expected later today. Though the mayor of Miami is a nonpartisan position, Suarez is running as a Republican.
SFBW breaks down the good, the bad, and the questionable of Suarez’s campaign.
- Suarez is pro-business. He raised Miami’s profile by luring tech and fintech companies from other states. Though he was an avid and early backer of crypto, which looks embarrassing in retrospect, that seems not to have dented his appeal to the business community.
- Under his watch, Miami’s real estate values have thrived, luxury residential development is on a tear, educated workers have flocked to the city, and he even took some credit for MLS Inter Miami luring legendary soccer player Lionel Messi to the city.
- He is staking out a moderate lane in the Republican primary, the only candidate to do so. He is no culture warrior. He’s all about business. (He didn’t vote for former president Donald Trump in 2020, and he voted for Gov. Ron DeSantis’ opponent in 2018.) But these qualities can also be liabilities, depending on where the electorate is headed (see below).
- He is a strong supporter of the LGBTQ community, shrewdly tying his support to his good-for-business philosophy. He signed the City of Miami’s LGBTQ Ordinance recognizing the decades of contributions by the LGBTQ Miami residents to the economy and diversity of the city. Under his direction, Miami created a database assigning LGBTQ businesses in Miami as designated minority businesses; the National LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce was officially recognized by the City Administration as a third-party organization tasked with certifying LGBTQ businesses. But, as above, what plays in Brickell and South Beach isn’t exactly aligned with national GOP sentiment.
- Trump’s indictment in federal court on Tuesday was peaceful, and Suarez can take credit for his management of the fraught event.
- Mayor of Miami is a part-time position without much power. And being a part-time mayor can engender the appearance of conflicts. Suarez is facing an ethics investigation for allegedly helping one of his development clients obtain permits for a project in Coconut Grove. The problem: The developer, Rishi Kapoor, has paid Suarez $170,000 since 2021 for his outside work.
- Mayors don’t typically ascend to the White House, though Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, made a serious run in 2020, winning the Democratic Iowa caucuses and placing second in the New Hampshire primary.
- Unless GOP sentiment takes an offramp in the wake of Trump’s multiple criminal indictments and DeSantis’ divisive battle with Disney and unpopular social policies, the party has little appetite for a centrist.
- He torched New York as a crime-ridden socialist hellscape in the op-ed pages of the Wall Street Journal last year. That is not a good look for the mayor of the sixth borough of New York. He’s going to need Manhattan donors, and people on Wall Street don’t exactly think of their city—which has one of the world’s biggest economies and a trillion-dollar GDP—as a socialist enclave.
- The overturning of Roe vs. Wade, and strict abortion laws (like the six-week abortion ban signed into law by DeSantis), have been proven to drive Democrats to the polls and lose elections for the GOP. Suarez doesn’t like to talk about abortion, but in time, he will be pressured to take a stand.
- He has to walk a fine line when it comes to frontrunner Trump. On Tuesday, before the indictment, he was spouting GOP talking points about equal application of the law; but by this morning, he was saying of the actions that led to Trump’s arrest, “It’s not what I would have done. I would have turned over the documents.” This sudden shift follows the about-faces of his opponents Mike Pence and Nikki Haley, who also dismissed the allegations against Trump before pivoting to take them seriously.
Photo courtesy of ABC News