Daphne Campbell Now Faces Crowd of Foes in Miami-Dade House Race
Around the State
Daphne Campbell is now facing political peril as she takes on three new foes and still has an extremely unimpressive fundraising operation.
The Miami Democrat has been running for 2014 since October 2012 and has done next to nothing in terms of building up a war chest. In the last year and a half, Campbell brought in only $22,370 and spent less than $625.
But things feel slightly different this time out. Campbell has been in the news for all the wrong reasons since her last election. Reports have come out on her husband’s minivan running red lights before the state representative filed legislation to ban red-light cameras. Campbell and her family have also faced questions about IRS liens, mortgage and Medicare fraud and how they ran their company, Professional Group Home, even as clients died under questionable circumstances.
In recent days, Campbell has drawn two Democratic opponents. Taj Echols is pretty well-known in the area because he served as athletic director for Miami-Dade’s schools. Echols won’t be a pushover by any means and is worth keeping an eye on, especially if the teachers' unions fall in line behind him.
Also in the mix is Democratic activist Michael Hepburn, who ran for the Florida House before. Hepburn made his first bow back in 2010 when he was running for another Florida House seat in the area. While John Patrick Julien won the Democratic nomination in a five-candidate primary with more than 40 percent, Hepburn took second with 23 percent. Hepburn left open running again in 2012 but, after redistricting, opted out of a rematch with Julien who was pitted against a fellow House member.
There’s certainly room to run to Campbell’s left in a Democratic primary. Campbell won some notice back in 2011 for standing against abortion and she gets above-average marks for a Democrat from parts of the community. Echols and Hepburn should have chances to undermine Campbell with the Democratic base and, if either can raise serious money, this could become an interesting primary.
Republicans won't be a factor in this heavily Democratic district. But whoever wins the primary will have to face Cedon Saintil, running with no party affiliation. Saintil has an interesting background. Originally from Haiti, he served more than a decade in law enforcement and then went on to become a pastor and businessman. He'll be an underdog against the Democrat, but he could pick up supporters from the candidates who lose in the primary.
Campbell has won before despite not having much of a war chest, but this is a race to watch, especially if the Democratic leadership finally decides it's had enough of her.
Tallahassee-based political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis exclusively for Sunshine State News.