This week, a major Republican challenger emerged in Miami-Dade County to run against freshman Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez, D-Miami, in a competitive Florida House district.
Daniel Diaz Leyva announced his bid Friday, but he filed his paperwork to run for the seat on Wednesday. Pointing to his background of helping the South Florida community, Diaz Leyva stressed he would offer voters a choice.
We find ourselves at a critical juncture; a time in which our values and our ability to get things done are both in peril, said Diaz Leyva. Voters in my district, and across the state of Florida, crave fresh thinking and real leadership to solve our very real problems. I will provide a clear contrast embodied by vision, pragmatism and a set of core beliefs in what I hope will be a spirited campaign.
Diaz Leyva works as a partner at the Infante Zumpano law firm. He also was appointed by House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, to the board of directors of Florida Healthy Choices.
Thats not Diaz Leyvas only connection to the Florida House. He served as campaign chairman for Rep. Jose Feliz Diaz, R-Miami. Diaz Leyva also helped launch SunPAC, a Republican-aligned group that is focused on winning Hispanics and other minority voters to the GOP. Jeb Bush Jr., the namesake of the former Florida governor, is one of the groups national chairmen.
But Rodriguez is no easy target. The Democrat defeated Republican candidate Alex Diaz de la Portilla -- who represented the region in Tallahassee in both the House and the Senate for 16 years -- for the open seat in 2012. Rodriguez has already risen to become part of the Democratic House leadership, serving as deputy whip. Despite being a freshman, Rodriguez has won assignments to some of the leading committees in the House including the Select Committee on Health Care Workforce Innovation and the Select Committee on PPACA (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act).
Rodriguez is already in campaign mode, having filed his paperwork to run again at the start of the year. During the first half of the year, Rodriguez raised $30,550 and spent around $275.
While Rodriguez beat out Diaz de la Portilla by a comfortable margin, this is a swing district though Republicans have a nominal edge. While 34 percent of voters here are registered Democrats, 38 percent of voters are with the GOP. This district proved a battleground in 2010 with both Rick Scott and Alex Sink taking 49 percent apiece here in 2010.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org.