Miami will be the center of the hustle and bustle in Florida politics Tuesday, when five politicians will face off to represent Florida’s 40th Senate District in Tallahassee.
Two special election primaries -- one for Senate District 40 and the other for House District 116 -- will take place Tuesday, setting the stage for fresh blood to integrate itself into the fabric of the Miami political scene.
SD40, which covers parts of Miami-Dade County including the Kendall area, was vacated in April when former Sen. Frank Artiles resigned after making a series of controversial comments and racial slurs aimed at a black lawmaker.
Seeing an opportunity to climb up the political ladder to the Florida Senate, Rep. Jose “Pepi” Felix Diaz resigned from the Florida House of Representatives to run for the seat. Diaz quickly found an opponent in former state Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla, who has been itching to get back to Tallahassee since he left office in 2010.
Another Republican, Lorenzo Palomares, is also running for the seat, but the GOP primary is largely seen as a contest between Diaz and Diaz de la Portilla.
The campaign has been one of the most bitter and perhaps most spirited in recent memory, filled with fake endorsements, significant TV air time and both candidates fighting tooth-and-nail to nab the coveted Republican nomination for the seat.
Diaz has significantly outpaced Diaz de la Portilla in the money game this summer.
The South Florida Republican has poured millions of dollars into the campaign, spending over $2 million in the last two months. A significant chunk of the money spent was funneled into campaign ads, where Diaz dominated the airwaves for weeks leading up to the election.
Diaz de la Portilla has had significantly less cash flow, loaning himself $393,000 since June 9 to run for the seat.
Diaz de la Portilla told the Miami Herald he had lent himself the money "to fight against the $3 million nasty defamation campaign waged by my opponent with dirty special interest money.”
Diaz is the top money raiser out of all candidates in the race, raking in over $531,000 since the beginning of June. Diaz’s total fundraising has surpassed $809,000 since he announced he’d run for Senate in May.
“I am feeling very good,” Diaz told Sunshine State News Monday. “I always love the day prior to an election. I feel confident that we have left it all on the field. The rest is now in the hands of the voters.”
The Democratic primary remained relatively low-key until recently, when candidates Annette Taddeo and former state Rep. Ana Rivas Logan began to turn up the heat on each other, hurling insults and pounding each other towards the end of the race for SD40.
Taddeo became the center of attack via a series of mailers sent out earlier this month. The mailers, paid for by Floridians for Accountability, compared Taddeo to Donald Trump, accusing her of dealing in “dirty money” supporting companies polluting the environment and driving up healthcare costs.
The committee responsible for the mailers is run by Broward County Democratic consultant, Amy Rose, but a significant chunk of its funding came from Associated industries of Florida, the same business group which endorsed Rep. Jose Felix Diaz in the Republican primary.
The winners of the primary election will meet for a final showdown at the general election, which will be held Sept. 26.