Daisy Baez vs. Ana Rivas Logan vs. Annette Taddeo
The Senate 40 race to replace disgraced former Sen. Frank Artiles got a little more interesting Monday when Republican State Rep. Jose Felix Diaz said he would run, as expected, and perennial Democrat candidate Annette Taddeo said she would run, as always expected — setting up for some exciting primaries in both aisles. Former Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla (Republican) and newly-minted State Rep. Daisy Baez (Dem) had already announced their bid for the seat that opened up last month after Artiles was caught making racial and sexist slurs to colleagues.
Former State Rep. Ana Rivas Logan, a former Republican now Democrat, told Ladra late Monday that she intended to run as well and would announce this week, making it at least a three-way race for blue voters on July 25.
Or a two-and-a-half way race. Because even though she is the Democrat Party choice, it is going to be difficult for Baez — who is barely known in her own district, let alone the one next door — to get much traction with the other two veterans in the race. And she will have to resign her seat to run. Ladra asked the Army veteran and freshman legislator if it was worth the risk of losing a recently turned House seat and her voice, which she used this year to speak against laws to punish sanctuary cities, especially now that a Senate seat in her very own district, where she was elected six months ago, will come available next year: In what is becoming an avalanche (more on that later), newly-minted Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez announced Monday that he would run for the congressional seat that will be vacated by a retiring Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. That means that the seat he won from former Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, which is where Baez votes now, would be open. (I stand corrected. J-Rod’s term is not up until 2020 and he does not have to resign to run so it might not be open… but it might be and there also might be a special election if he wins).
“I’m a person of my word. I’m not going to be switching around seats just because it’s convenient,” Baez said in what seemed like a dig at Taddeo. “I hope more people run. It’s good for democracy.”
Still, it really doesn’t make any sense for the Democrat Party, which has such a shallow bench, to put all their eggs into one basket and possibly lose a House seat they just won when they can spread their love. Maybe new Florida Dem Chair Stephen Bittel, for whom this is a first test, ought to rethink his longterm game plan. Both Taddeo and Rivas Logan have already had people vote for them in this district. They are both known entities here and this could very well become a race between the two of them.
Baez thinks that she can get voters interested in new blood. “I believe people are tired of the same names, the same faces, the family dynasties,” she said. “I think people in 40 have no appetite for recycled candidates.”
She scoffs at my carptebagger thing, since she would have to move. She said shares boundaries with Senate 40 and that she will still represent the people who elected her to House District 114 in November. “Many of the issues important to the constituents of 114 are the same in 40,” she said. “People want good jobs, economic development. We want to feel safe in our homes.”
Those same people who elected her, Baez said, would support this move. “I went to Tallahassee and I had a great time and I learned a lot. And because I learned a lot there’s an understanding I can do better in the Senate. I can deliver better results to them as a state senator,” Baez said.
Rivas Logan, who ran for this seat last year and handily beat Andrew Korge in the primary blindfolded and with one hand tied behind her back, is not discouraged by the estrogen in the race or the fact that the Democrat Party would, again, pick someone else to back. She is used to being independent from her party, which used to be the GOP before it abandoned her in favor of Pepi Diaz when they were redrawn into the same district in 2012. Which means, by the way, that this could be a rematch of sorts.
“I’m going to do it and let the cards fall where they may,” Rivas Logan told Ladra Monday, adding that she called Taddeo to let her know. “I’m going to run a very positive campaign based on issues. And I hope we would support the other one in the general. But I am not getting out of anyone’s way this time.”
The schoolteacher and former Miami-Dade School Board member sort of canned her campaign for the same seat midway through the primary last year to avoid any negative attention from Korge, who was already hitting incumbent Sen. Dwight Bullard and had lots of money to do so. The strategy worked. Almost. She came back in time for early voting and actually beat Korge, who had outspent her.
She told Ladra that this was a better time for her because it is summer and school is out. “I spoke with my family and I have their full support,” she said, promising to keep her campaign positive. “It’s going to be about the issues. I have a track record of working for the people and fighting against the establishment.”
Taddeo — who moved into District 40 after selling her Pinecrest home in November — said she welcomed the competition. “I’ve never been afraid of races. In fact, this is the first time I run in an open seat,” Taddeo told Ladra.
This would be Taddeo’s first foray into a Senate campaign. She has run for congress, twice, and for county commission and lieutenant governor. It “wasn’t an easy decision” to run again, she said, but that she could not ignore the people in the community, including a number of influential black pastors, who had called her and asked her to run in this seat.
“They way things happened with Artiles was very hutful to a lot of constituents in our community,” she said, adding that she at first told them she would not run. “I was sure Dwight was going to do it,” she said, referring to Bullard, who won the primary last year but lost to Artiles and apparently understands now that only a Hispanic Democrat can beat a Hispanic Republican in that district. Bullard, she said, is not interested.
Even after Ros-Lehtinen, who Taddeo ran against in 2008, announced her retirement, the Colombian born small business owner said she didn’t flinch. “For me, it’s not about a title. It’s about fighting for the people. It’s not about a job. I have a job,” she said, referring to the translation company she owns.
“It really came down to listening to the people, the community that is telling you to do something. It would be inappropriate for me to ignore them,” she said.
One could say, however, that she keeps ignoring the voters who keep rejecting her. But Taddeo thinks this is the right seat at the right time. She told Ladra that she won almost 60% of the precincts that overlap with Congressional District 26 in her primary run against former Congressman Joe Garcia last August. Could she win in an off year?
This is all important because now that we are guaranteed a Hispanic woman, chances are that whoever wins the Democrat primary wins the general. It was already true because of the demographics — that district went to Clinton with 12 points — but now it becomes especially significant after the whole Artiles thing.
Sorry, Alex. Maybe he should run for his brother’s old Senate seat next year.