Florida: Democrats Flex Financial Muscle in Miami Races

Posted April 16, 2008 at 6:34pm

The Democratic challengers to Reps. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R), Mario Diaz-Balart (R) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R) each came close to outraising the incumbents during the first quarter of 2008.

Former Hialeah Mayor Raul Martinez (D), who hopes to face Lincoln Diaz-Balart in the general election, raised about $615,000, roughly the same as the lawmaker. Political consultant Joe Garcia (D), who hopes to face Mario Diaz-Balart, raised about $331,000 — also about the same as the incumbent.

Local businesswoman Annette Taddeo (D), who is challenging Ros-Lehtinen, raised $322,000 during the quarter. Ros-Lehtinen raised about $115,000. Taddeo loaned her campaign $180,000.

The three Miami-area districts have been reliable Republican strongholds for years, but Democrats have been touting the quality of their challengers — and argue that the area is starting to change politically.

“The people of Florida want change, and they’re getting behind the strong Democratic candidates,” said Alejandro Miyar, a spokesman for the Florida Democratic Party. “It’s an increasingly strong bet that South Florida will have new leaders in Congress this year.”

— Matthew Murray