Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Jeb Bush's Voucher Candidate Voted Down in Miami-Dade

In Florida's meanest and most expensive state Senate race, Miami Sen. Alex Villalobos was reelected Tuesday night, overcoming the millions spent by third-party attack groups and the ire of Gov. Jeb Bush, who helped run a candidate against the moderate Republican.

Villalobos said his squeaker of a victory over Miami-Dade School Board member Frank Bolaños was a triumph of the little guy over ''special interests'' in the state capital, which could face political gridlock with his return. He was to be Florida's first Cuban-American Senate president before he was cast out by the leaders of his own party.

Another reason for Villalobos' win: The unprecedented negative advertising blitz targeting him backfired on Bolaños and his supporters, the Florida Chamber of Commerce and an education lobby group, All Children Matter, that was miffed that he voted against a Bush school-voucher plan. [bankrolled by the families that founded Wal-mart and Amway.]

The group, All Children Matter, supports candidates nationwide who favor using public voucher money to send poor children to private schools. Also contribued was $10,000 from Betsy DeVos, whose family built the marketing company Amway and owns the Orlando Magic. The families have long been active in the school-choice movement.

[Frank Bolaños is one of the Miami-Dade School Board members who voted to censor a book about Cuba}.