Suspended Miami City Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones was outwardly defiant when she was released on bond after her arrest for allegedly stealing public funds this past November. As you may remember, Ms. Spence-Jones handily won re-election in District 5, capturing 83% of the vote; minutes after her acceptance speech, she was arrested and charged before the ice sculpture of Ms. Spence-Jones and her beaded hair extensions had a chance to melt.
Livid and practically spitting quarters after posting bail, Spence-Jones wasted no time in blaming her predicament on 'racist' politics, rather than her own questionable activities. Not surprisingly, she vowed to fight the sinister forces that got her into this unfortunate predicament.
Her steely resolve didn't stop there. Gov. Charlie Crist promptly suspended Spence-Jones from office pending resolution of the her case. However, Crist---distracted from his gubernatorial duties by his own run for the U.S. Senate--- neglected to appoint a replacement, preferring instead to deflect responsibility to the city, forcing it to hold a special election on January 12.
In so doing,Gov. Crist paved the way for Spence-Jones to exploit a loophole in the city charter that allows a suspended City Commissioner to run in the very Special Election held to fill the seat from which they were deposed. Slipping badly in the polls and trying to look senatorial and gubernatorial at the same time, Crist delivered a pre-emptive strike in response to her announcement to run again: do it and win, and I will suspend you again.
In the Spence-Jones camp, them's fightin' words.
Apparently Ms. Spence-Jones is unimpressed and undeterred.
According to published reports in Miami today, as the special election approaches Ms. Spence-Jones has retained legal counsel to exclusively defend her against any additional suspension attempt by Gov. Crist. Clearly, not only does Michelle Spence-Jones expect to win the special election, but she is making a bold public bet that Gov. Crist will be too preoccupied with his faltering Senate bid to take time from his own sinking ship to fire more broadsides at hers.
And, if Crist does choose to act like an engaged governor, then her team will think nothing of beating Tallahassee over the head with Miami's City Charter, claiming that the Governor is hijacking the will of her people with a very public election-year agenda against her.
Smart political money in the Magic City is on Spence-Jones winning convincingly again; and by assembling a legal team to combat the Suspender-In-Chief, she is clearly beating her hands on her chest and shouting from rooftops and billboards that she will not be denied.
For his part, political prognosticators around the state aren't betting on Crist engaging in this battle.
It is more likely that Spence-Jones will win re-election; and like Gov. Lawton Chiles did before him with suspended Commission Humberto Hernandez in a similar circumstance, Crist will make voters in Spence-Jones' district live with their decision once and for all, and for better or worse...if they are deluded enough to elect her again.