I don’t shy away from life,” onetime Manhattan party boy turned Florida Republican state house representative Fabian Basabe, now 45, tells me on a recent Sunday at the Standard Spa in Miami Beach as a waitress delivers his brunch of shrimp grits and a screwdriver. His bright-green eyes, now offset by gray at the temples, are still disarming, even when he tells me about how a dealer had recently offered him $140,000 for the Patek Philippe watch adorning his wrist. Tropical lightning flashes in inky clouds above the ocean, providing a Mephistophelean backdrop to his dark good looks and air of princely mischief.
State House District 106, which he has represented since 2022, is a humid Xanadu, stretching from Aventura in the north, home to Florida’s largest mall, down to the mansions of Fisher Island, one of the wealthiest Zip Codes in the country. Its beating heart is Miami Beach, where street vendors offer lemurs or exotic snakes as props for a selfie and soi-disant paparazzi ambush tipsy tourists on the crosswalk, selling them their celebrity-style guerrilla photos on the spot. It might be the only place on earth where electing a Barnumesque bon vivant like Basabe to public office makes sense.
Basabe made headlines this summer when both his legislative assistant and his intern, young men whom he’d (unusually for Florida state political staffers) had sign NDAs, accused him of sexual harassment — it was alleged he’d smacked one of their behinds and declared “I want all of that butt.” Basabe is convinced it’s an effort to derail his political career. As he put it in an August Instagram post celebrating Kevin Spacey’s being “ASSUMED GUILTY, FOUND INNOCENT,” he wrote, “IMAGINE WHAT THEY CAN DO TO PEOPLE IN POLITICS!”
“Cancel culture has been controlling the market for candidates,” he tells me, connecting his old life as a public figure to his new one as a public servant: “One of the most important educations I got in my life was my adult years in New York City, and it was why I went out so much. I was at the most important events with the smartest people in the world, having conversations.” He stops to sip his screwdriver. “I was getting a world education over a cocktail.”
Who is State Representative Basabe? For those who remember the post-9/11 downtown-Manhattan bustle of Bungalow 8, Pastis, and early Gawker, he was a dashing, roguish nightlife fixture, seemingly unencumbered by the need to hold down a dreary day job, surrounded at all times by heiresses and good-looking young men. He launched his career as a tabloid obsession in 2004, when the Daily News devoted half its front page to a photograph of him “dirty dancing” (in the paper’s words) at a Fashion Week “shindig” with Barbara Bush, then the 22-year-old First Daughter.
In the ensuing furor, she had the sense to clam up. Basabe, on the contrary, hired a publicist. A steady stream of gossip items from that time painted “top bachelor” Basabe as a socialite miscreant, allegedly making racist remarks (which he denies) and being subject to arrests for DUIs, trespassing, and other infractions. One day after putting him on its cover, the Daily News reported he’d had run-ins with the law in California.
He epitomized a certain kind of aughts micro-celebrity: constant red-carpet photos; a Washington Post profile that dubbed him “Paris Hilton, but the male version,” and Filthy Rich: Cattle Drive, a reality show (co-starring Kourtney Kardashian and George Foreman III, among others) that aired for one season on E! in 2005. That same year, he married his college girlfriend, Martina Borgomanero. They had a son, Brando, and moved to Miami, where he’d spent time while growing up.
But even if he was no longer under the nose of New York’s gossip reporters, languishing in obscurity is not Basabe’s style.
The next 15 years of high living in Miami Beach were sprinkled with on-brand mini-scandals. They include a 2011 lawsuit claiming he walked off with $5,000 while helping out with an immigration case; a 2017 report that he bit a waitress on the left biceps at the Faena Hotel (he said he merely chomped his teeth playfully); and the 2019 account by Black publicist Tayo Otiti, who had denied him entry to an overfilled Art Basel party, that he called her “the N-word, peasant bitch, and whore.” (Basabe said he only called her a peasant.) This past May, Paolo Aliatis, a relative of Basabe’s, sued him over a botched deal to import and resell used Land Rovers from Britain.
Notable arrests include one for disorderly intoxication outside a South Beach gay bar in 2016, for which the police report quotes him saying “I got on the roof of the car to make a fabulous entrance to Club Twist.” (He volunteered to reproduce that pose for New York’s photographer.) And in 2020, after throwing a woman’s phone into the Bay of Biscayne over a COVID-era social-distancing dispute, he was charged with “strong-arm robbery” and detained at gunpoint by U.S. Marshals after docking his luxury boat on a jaunt to South Carolina.
None of which seems like the foundation for a successful midlife switch to local politics. But anyway, post-Trump, running for office had a certain swag to it, and Basabe, the lovable rogue, felt he had to take a stand after a friend decided not to join a race because he was “afraid of getting canceled.” The lightbulb went off: Basabe, with the means to fund his own race and no business interest to protect, could run.
Basabe wonders if his most recent accusers had been put up to the task by an unknown political enemy. “To have worked really hard and to have someone just cover up the hard work you’ve done, when I’m really doing this in a pure spirit of good-heartedness of community service, it’s really frustrating,” he says. “They’re trying to destroy my life.”
Just then, Brittny Gastineau, one of Basabe’s co-stars from Filthy Rich: Cattle Drive, stops by the table to say “hello.” She curls up like a cat and orders a Diet Coke; it’s time to talk about something else.
“I’ve also had a line of people come into my office and say, ‘I’ll sign an NDA, and you can slap me,’” Basabe says, just before we change the subject. “But I tell them that’s not funny.”
After brunch, as dark clouds close in from the sea, we embark on a six-hour tour of HD106 in Basabe’s hulking black Chevy Suburban.
Fitted just that day with vanity “FB4FL” official House license plates, the SUV contains a lively seven-year-old toy Australian shepherd named Sodapop and is driven by Basabe’s close friend. That friend believes the innuendo that may follow from having his name mentioned here could permanently damage his relationship with his conservative family. So, in homage to one of a famously chaste pair of Muppet roommates, let’s call him Bert.
Riding up Collins Avenue, Basabe speaks enthusiastically about the history of local development. As the rain starts, we visit a fashion designer, Rene Ruiz, who has been working on Sunday in his Aventura atelier.
“I voted for Fabian because I have known him for many years and I know he’s a common-sense kind of person,” says Ruiz, a gay man who is not concerned by Basabe’s support for Governor Ron DeSantis’s “Don’t Say Gay” legislation. “I think that he did the right thing. I don’t feel that bill is against my interest.”
Meanwhile, stepping in to help Basabe while he is down a legislative aide is volunteer James Davis, who performs in drag as Elaine Lancaster and was once a supporting character on The Real Housewives of Miami. (Davis says he lost his drag hosting gigs in 2017 after coming out as a Trump supporter.)
Among Basabe’s chief antagonists is the LGBTQ-rights group Equality Florida, the members of which have picketed Basabe’s office and harangued him when he appeared at the most recent Miami Beach Pride Parade, chanting “Shame” as he moved slowly down Ocean Drive on the back of his own red vintage Chevy convertible.
The group’s political director, Joe Saunders, has already announced his intention to run against Basabe in the next election, prompting Basabe to dismiss many of his most vocal critics as “paid shills” for Equality Florida.
Post-brunch, we spend the day driving around the district, which he clearly knows well. Finally, around 9 p.m., we end up at Mac’s Club Deuce, a legendary South Beach dive. The Graduate, The Simpsons, and the Jets-Chiefs game (featuring Taylor Swift) are playing on different wide-screen TVs as Sodapop sits on a bar stool watching staff put up Halloween decorations. A FaceTime call comes on Basabe’s phone: It’s Cuba Gooding Jr. and his girlfriend, Claudine De Niro, inviting him and Bert to come over and watch the game. But he politely demurs.
One of Basabe’s tics is that he is constantly saying outrageous and revealing things but prefaces seemingly every second sentence with “Off the record …” After a round of tequila-sodas, I suggest that if Basabe or Bert wants to talk about their friendship on the record, this might be the moment.
“My family is everything to me, and I will do whatever it takes to protect them,” Basabe says, launching into a Republican family-values stem-winder with a tiny rainbow flag in its tail. “My son is the most important human in the world to me. Martina is second, and Bert is No. 3.” Bert watches this speech impassively, although a slight ripple passes over his expression at the news he is only taking bronze in Basabe’s life.
Fabian Basabe was born in 1978 at New York University Hospital. His father, Fabian Sr., had immigrated from Ecuador; his mother, Maryann, is American. He likes to say his grandmother was smitten with the mid-century singer Fabian and that’s why the men in his line carry the name, but his father was born a decade too early for that to be so.
The source of the family money is unclear. Basabe says it’s the dregs of an inherited hospitality-and-brewing fortune, plus his dad’s “entrepreneurship.” His mother worked for Pan Am and befriended hotel mogul Leona Helmsley, as he tells it, because she also had offices in the airline’s iconic midtown building. (In fact, the Helmsleys had their own skyscraper across the street.)
“I remember her telling my dad, ‘Well, I want a hotel. Why don’t I have a hotel?’” Basabe says. “He was like, ‘Fine, I’ll get you a hotel.’”
So around 1988, they bought the Bolivar on then-seedy Ocean Drive and renamed it the Boulevard. (It was eventually sold for $10 as part of a bankruptcy action in 2005.) Around this time, Basabe says, he had been kicked out of three prep schools (“I was a troublemaker”) and Pepperdine University in Malibu (for an academic infraction that is “off the record.”).
Whatever his father’s fortunes, however, at Pepperdine Basabe had the good taste to fall in love with a wealthy classmate. Martina Borgomanero’s grandfather had been a partner in the successful La Perla lingerie company, then based in her hometown of Bologna, Italy. (The $270 million company was sold to a private-equity firm in 2007.)
Over the phone from Bologna, which she says she still considers home, Martina describes meeting her future husband at a gathering of Pepperdine students outside a club in 1997. “He was wearing an electric-blue jacket to the knee, three sizes too big, with the MC Hammer pants and Versace loafers that were suede all around with snakeskin on top,” she says. Passing her — then a stranger — by the valet parking, he said, “Someone just asked me where I rented my jacket. Don’t they even know who my father is?”
That quote/pickup line from the 1995 film Clueless was a popular catchphrase at the time. But an hour later, over dinner at a Mel’s Drive-In Diner, Borgomanero, who was still learning Americanisms, asked her friend what pie “à la mode” meant. “And from ten tables away, over the chatter of 50 people and the music of Madonna, Fabian gets up, puts his hands on the table, and shouts at me: ‘With ice cream, stupid!’”
So obviously it was love.
After college, Borgomanero went back to Italy but kept the relationship alive with daily phone calls. Basabe, meanwhile, returned to New York, where no velvet rope was a match for his charisma and chutzpah. He did a bit of modeling with his pal Amanda Hearst, which got noticed. E! featured him on a show about the new generation of “It” kids.
“I used to wear T-shirts I got at Barneys; one of them said ‘Beauty Qualifies Me,’ and another one said ‘Local Celebrity,’” he recalls. “I guess I was that rising wave of New York socialites.” The attention helped him pick up small endorsement deals. Veteran publicist Alan Rish recalls driving cross-country in a Monarch RV with him and the society photographer Patrick McMullan on a road-trip PR stunt to various far-flung retail locations that sold designer Jhane Barnes.
“He was our token beautiful socialite, the brand ambassador,” Rish says. “He was always really fun, not snobby or snooty, and he knew everybody.” The trip stretched from Texas to California and points in between. “Even in Oklahoma City, he always found the party. When everyone else was ready to go to sleep, he was just getting started. We were mystified.”
All this energy proved magnetic. Guests at a black-tie “winter ball” the Basabes threw to celebrate their 2005 wedding are a time capsule of the era’s young socials: Barbara Bush, Gillian and Amanda Hearst, Dylan Lauren, Annie Churchill, Zani Gugelmann, Marc Gilbertson, Bettina Zilkha, Charles Rockefeller, Cristina Greeven Cuomo, Dori Cooperman, Douglas Hannant and Frederick Anderson, Melissa Berkelhammer, and, somehow, Tori Spelling.
Then, in 2009, their son arrived. He was called Fabian, naturally, “but he wasn’t responding to it,” Basabe says — the child associated the name with his father and grandfather. Family lore has it that around age 2, he pointed to his parents and himself in turn and said, “Mommy, Daddy, Brando.” His birth certificate was updated accordingly.
Brando, 14, now attends boarding school in Switzerland, which gives Martina reason to spend more time with her family in Europe in addition to maintaining the marital home in Miami Beach. She makes it clear that home is solid — and also nobody else’s business.
“The private life of a politician shouldn’t matter to the voter. It should only matter to the people that belong to his private life,” she says. (Fabian Basabe’s X profile describes him as a “common sense family man.”) Moreover, the gossip about his sexuality and allegations of harassment “do not affect our family. Fabian is a very good dad, and I honestly don’t think anybody who is out there to do good, like he is, should be so bombarded. And every effort lately is so cheap — it’s like, ‘If something is off, we’re going to find it.’”
But doesn’t the endless conga line of lawsuits, arrests, and other antics bother her?
“His behavior is definitely extraordinary in the literal sense of the word, like, out of the ordinary,” she allows. “A lot of people either don’t say what they do, or do it with some sort of privacy, because who knows what people are going to think. But Fabian doesn’t have that filter. I honestly don’t think that Fabian believes he does anything wrong.”
And what does she believe?
“I am very happy with my marriage, and I am very happy for where my family is and how it has evolved. And I worked very hard for this to happen, so I am also very pleased with myself,” she says. “I mean, it’s not everybody’s cup of tea.”
He’s the George Santos of Florida,” says Aaron Bos-Lun, a local LGBTQ advocate who has made taking down Basabe something of a personal crusade. He helps run several anti-Basabe social-media accounts, called Stopthebully on X and Instagram, which he describes as “a necessary public service to expose someone so willing to lie.”
Basabe launched his post–dirty–dancing–with–a–First Daughter career in politics with a 2021 bid for a Miami Beach Commission (or council) seat as a Trumpist Republican, which crashed when it was ruled he hadn’t met the residency requirements. That snub created antipathy between Basabe and the city that continues to this day.
But the following year, he eked out a surprise victory in his tilt for the state legislature, winning by just 242 votes out of 52,588 cast. “I did it the old-fashioned way: by knocking on doors and standing on the street with a sign,” he says.
Unfortunately, his freshman year in the state capital of Tallahassee has not gone without a hitch. First, there was an immediate backlash among some constituents over his voting record, which has supported Governor DeSantis’s conservative agenda.
Audio from a livestream of an event for LGBTQ Democrats during the 2022 campaign has Basabe representing himself as a Republican “gay candidate.” Basabe does not deny saying this. He also acknowledges he briefly signed up as vice-president of the local Log Cabin Republicans, a gay GOP group, although soon vacated the role because “I just didn’t have the time.”
Ask Basabe about any confusion people might have about his orientation and he responds: “Sexually, I am more than satisfied. That’s how I identify.”
Critics and allies alike agree that his support of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill may have been necessary for political survival within the state GOP. Basabe claims he successfully altered language in the bill that made it less hostile to LGBTQ people and represents himself as a centrist on various issues, at least by current Florida standards. In October, he introduced a bill that would repeal a lingering statutory prohibition on recognizing same-sex marriages, even though they have been effectively legal in the state since a 2015 U.S. District Court ruling. (Three similar bills have failed in Florida’s legislature since 2017.) Also last month he proposed a bill that would set the state’s legal abortion limit at 12 weeks, splitting the difference between a current limit of six weeks and a 15-week exception in some circumstances.
But his critics don’t buy any of it. “If you only interact with Fabian for less than five minutes, they’ll be five of the best minutes of your life,” says Bos-Lun. “And if you interact with him for five minutes and one second, you’ll realize you’ve never met a worse person.”
Besides, Basabe has other problems than just his voting record.
In November 2022, just as the new class of state representatives was being sworn in, Nicolas Frevola was looking for work.
In a recent telephone interview, patched in with his lawyer, Cindy Myers, he says he was introduced to the newly minted State Representative Basabe via texts from a mutual friend. Over drinks at the Governor’s Club, a wood-paneled redoubt for Tallahassee power brokers, he met the whole family, including Martina, Brando, and even Bert — who he says was introduced as Basabe’s boyfriend. (Basabe tells New York this introduction did not happen.)
That was unusual, he admits, but “I thought, Okay. You know, I didn’t judge. I didn’t really care.” And Basabe made a great impression. “I genuinely thought he was a cool guy, like, Maybe this guy can actually do something.”
But Frevola alleges things quickly went south. According to the lawsuit, on December 20, while visiting “North Beach Elementary School for the school’s Career Day, and standing in the back of a classroom full of children, BASABE stated to NICOLAS FREVOLA, ‘I want ALL of that butt!’ and then BASABE touched NICOLAS FREVOLA’s buttocks by slapping it with his hand, which NICOLAS FREVOLA found offensive, and which was without his consent.”
“I didn’t say anything because I was scared and afraid,” Frevola says now. Also he had signed an NDA as a condition for interacting with the Basabe family — which is not standard procedure for state legislative aides — “and I didn’t know if this was binding.”
Then, on January 3, the inauguration day of DeSantis’s second term, Frevola alleges Basabe began drinking before lunch. Later that afternoon, at a social event hosted by a lobbying group, he claims Basabe asked about his sex life — then slapped him across the face for the imagined infraction of “cheating” with a woman.
“BASABE then demanded that NICOLAS FREVOLA stand in the corner of the room,” the lawsuit states. “Taken aback, and out of fear of additional confrontation, NICOLAS FREVOLA complied.”
“I didn’t know how to react; I was in shock,” Frevola says. “There were a bunch of high-profile people in the room, and they saw it.”
Jacob Cutbirth, who is a co-plaintiff, declined to be interviewed. But their lawsuit states: “On several occasions, BASABE told CUTBIRTH and NICOLAS FREVOLA that ‘sport fucking is a thing that guys do’ and he (BASABE) encouraged CUTBIRTH and NICOLAS FREVOLA to ‘try sport fucking.’
“BASABE also told CUTBIRTH that ‘whenever men have sex with women, women can be all in their feelings’ and can get emotionally attached, when all men want to do is have sex and not necessarily have an emotional attachment, and this is why it is better for men to have sex with other men rather than women.”
Frevola says he checked himself into hospital in late March, suffering a panic attack “because of the harassment.” Once his mother got wind of it, she and Frevola started working with a lawyer. In July, he filed a complaint with the EEOC as well as the court case. (Janette Frevola is also party to the defamation count relating to a press release posted on Twitter by Basabe calling them a “conning, scheming mother and son duo.”)
The stated monetary claim of the lawsuit is “individually in excess of $50,000.” But Frevola has claimed what he really wants is an apology. (Myers clarifies: “Nick still wants the same apologies from Basabe and Florida House leadership. But he also wants the remedy to be determined by a jury.”)
“I just want to be whole again,” he says. “I just want to smile again and be happy and not wake up with night terrors every night.”
Then he bursts into tears.
Basabe denies the allegations contained in the lawsuit, which include defamation and three counts each of sexual harassment and battery.
“Tallahassee is a very small town, and I’m not a usual character for them. It’s not a town that keeps secrets, and if something would have happened, everyone would have known about it the very next day,” he says. This after the Republican-controlled House hired an outside investigator, Marlene Quintana of the Miami law firm GrayRobinson, to look into the allegations.
The report came out November 8, and it contained more gossipy details that Basabe disputes, including that Frevola had stayed in Basabe’s pool house in Miami (the property, nicknamed Shiloh, is a different place from where Basabe’s family lives). At Shiloh, they allegedly attended various parties together, including one where an “unidentified guest asked if Mr. Frevola could be abused for sexual purposes and Representative Basabe responded ‘you can abuse him all you want.’” (Basabe denies saying this and does not recall the event described.) Frevola had free access to both Shiloh as well as the keypad code to Basabe’s apartment in Tallahassee and, according to the report, has become quite fond of his boss: “Text messages produced by Representative Basabe confirm that Mr. Frevola told Representative Basabe that he loved him.” (Myers counters this was merely bro-y banter, as in ”’love you, man!’”)
Cutbirth, for his part, detailed to the investigator an alleged incident of being hit on by Basabe (which he denies) before he became an intern, and the report says that he was asked to sign the same NDA that Frevola signed.
And while the report noted that Basabe showed both young men the same photo of “his friend in a bikini in a movie scene,” and both “reported very similar comments being made by Representative Basabe regarding sex as a sport made only for men,” it concludes in his favor. “I do not find any evidence, direct or circumstantial, to substantiate the allegations,” wrote Quintana. It does, however, suggest he “exercise better judgment” with “his subordinates (and their friends) in the future.”
Myers, the plaintiffs’ attorney, responded: “We were expecting her to find in his favor, because that’s what all of these employer defense attorney-investigators do. But we weren’t expecting it to be so fraught with what appears to be deliberate misstatements, key docs not addressed, and shoddiness.” She has vowed to fight on.
On a hot Monday in October, Basabe is hosting 16 officials from the ten cities and two “unincorporated entities” in his district for a working lunch at an Italian restaurant in his North Bay Village office building. While servers hover with appetizer platters of calamari fritti, Basabe opens by addressing the sexual-harassment lawsuit.
“I can’t discuss the legal charges, but I want to look you all in the eye and say they are absolutely false allegations and I will be victorious in court,” he says. “So please be patient and I apologize for the embarrassment brought to the district.”
Not only does nobody bat an eyelid, but in the chummy atmosphere, almost everyone has something nice to say about their freshman state rep.
“From the day I met him, he has never failed to show up,” says Enid Weisman, the Democratic mayor of Aventura from 2014 to 2022. “What impressed me was his willingness to explain his history. The first thing he told me was his negatives; he owned them all. Somebody running for political office usually tries to sugarcoat their past, but it was refreshing to hear someone say, ‘I’m just a human being, I have my faults.’”
“He’s incredibly hardworking, and STOP signs are not a partisan issue,” says Shlomo Danzinger, the young Republican mayor of Surfside.
Another official puts in more bluntly. “The Republicans have all the state power, so we need to work with a Republican to get entitlements,” they say, referring to the discretionary financial grants the state makes to cities. “Democrats get crumbs.”
And does the electorate suspect he is hiding anything about his private life?
“I think the voters perceive him as ‘bi,’” says Weisman. “Gay, bi, it doesn’t matter.” Danzinger says, “It’s not an issue, and it’s not a secret.”
Nobody asks Basabe for his pronouns, but he gives them anyway: “Love, loves, and loves-self.” The room politely chuckles.
Support among local officials is not universal, however. Three representatives from liberal Miami Beach leave early, trailing icicles in their wake, underlining the rift from Basabe’s thwarted run for city commission.
That feud surfaces again the next morning at a Miami Beach pâtisserie, where the city’s former mayor Matilde “Matti” Bower hosts a local politics breakfast club. It is livestreamed on social media, but Basabe never announces his attendance in advance, he says, to avoid Equality Florida arranging a picket.
That day, Bower has also invited Joe Magazine, a finance professional and bodybuilder, who bulges out of his white button-down shirt as he pitches his candidacy for city commissioner. The dozen octogenarian voters in attendance listen politely, but the room doesn’t come alive until Basabe takes the microphone.
He and Bower — a supporter though a Democrat — start sparring. Suddenly, everyone is interested. Basabe colorfully describes his experience at the previous day’s lunch, accusing the Miami Beach contingent of “walking out.” Within minutes, Bower’s Apple watch is vibrating with furious calls from an aggrieved party at the Miami Beach City Commission.
“He wants to know how I can let Fabian say that,” she says, clearly enjoying the fuss. Beverly Heller, a Democrat constituent originally from Queens, waits with a thick file of documents to buttonhole Basabe about school funding. She says she wasn’t concerned about the harassment allegations and compared Basabe to John F. Kennedy, whose presidential campaign she worked on as a college student.
“Just look at him! He’s got a lot of charm, just like Kennedy. The same thing happened to him,” she says, meaning the reports of sexual impropriety, “but what I don’t see, I don’t know is true.”
Eventually, the store empties out and Basabe orders a ham-and-cheese croissant to take back for Bert, who, he says, “isn’t a morning person.” Hours later, we are all back in the Chevy Suburban heading to hear about a neighboring district’s pedestrian-safety initiative.
With time running out, there is a lot more Basabe wants to say. His proposed 12-week abortion bill, for example. But then a journalist calls wanting to know about the fight with Aventura’s mayor: Is it true Basabe is backing a recall effort? Suddenly, he remembers he has to call his wife in Italy; over FaceTime, Martina raises a glass of straw-colored wine, beaming.
In Little Havana, Basabe steps out of the vehicle in a tailored cream jacket, slim navy trousers, and brown suede shoes (all Tod’s brands) with Sodapop on a leash. Half a dozen stakeholders follow him around explaining the multiple issues related to widening sidewalks: property lines, drainage, traffic flow. Basabe takes it all in and asks what seems to me like informed questions. He poses for a picture with a white memorial cross on a street corner. Strangers approach him — he is clearly some kind of big deal. He spends time with everyone and thanks some passing cops for their service. He is, effortlessly, the center of attention.
Back in the car and there’s more he hasn’t said. “Guns, gays, abortion, and immigration” is his platform. Meanwhile, his phone is pinging — the Miami Beach commissioner “walkout” claim is metastasizing in real time. And has he mentioned he’s working on a book?
No, he hasn’t, but we’re out of time. Bert pulls up in front of the Brightline train station and deposits me on the curb. Basabe plans to hit a Democratic social event that night — a calculated provocation — and is disappointed New York won’t be there to document it. The train leaves in 15 minutes.
So is schmoozing outside his district part of a bigger strategy? “If I have to run for higher office to heal this divide, I will,” he says with great seriousness.
Hugs good-bye and Sodapop bounces in the back seat and Bert restarts the car. But wait, what’s the book called?
“The Life of the Party,” he says, before being swallowed by the sunshine.