Thursday, January 31, 2008

Joe García vs. Mario Díaz-Balart

It was almost made official last night on Maria Elvira Live with guest Joe García, director of the Hispanic Program at the New Democrat Network and Chairman of the Democratic Party of Miami-Dade County.

Days before Raúl Martínez officially announced his candidacy challenging Rep. Lincoln Díaz-Balart last week, Martínez also appeared on Maria Elvira Live and almost confirmed his intentions then. Last night, García did the same thing.

Maria Elvira let
García know that she had very reliable information indicating that Joe García would make an official announcement next week to run against Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart of District 25 in Miami. García, like Martínez before him, neither confirmed or denied the rumor. It is very likely that Joe García will make an official announcement soon, which may also point to another announcement to challenge Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen for District 18.

Last week NBC6 reported (through local political analyst Nick Bogert) that "
Democrats hope to take on all three long-time Cuban-American congressional Republicans... Miami-Dade County party chair Joe Garcia said he will challenge Mario Diaz-Balart, and businesswoman Annette Taddeo will take on [Rep.] Ileana Ros-Lehtinen."

Annette Taddeo is founder and CEO of LanguageSpeak, "a comprehensive language services company offering translations, conference interpretation and private tutoring in over 100 languages." Taddeo has a strong political record locally, and very active within the local Democratic party. Yet, no public announcements have been made by Taddeo to run against Rep. Ros-Lehtinen.

Earlier this month, Larry Luxner of CubaNews interviewed some of the main organizers behind this Democratic push in South Florida. Luxner quoted
Alvaro Fernández, president of the Cuban American Commission for Family Rights, saying: "As important as Washington, D.C., is, if we want real change, it has to come from South Florida. Once we knock off one or both of these guys [Diaz-Balart brothers], things will start changing... right now, there’s a search for somebody to run against [Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen]. Trust me, all three will be challenged."

Luxner also quoted Tony Zamora, former Bay of Pigs veteran and director of the Foundation for the Normalization of US-Cuba Relations, saying: "We’re going to do battle in Miami... This embargo thing started in South Florida, and we’re going to end it in South Florida. I’m extremely confident that not only is there an energized Democratic Party, but also a very strong change in the community. I’ve lived here for 40 years, I was the [Cuban American National Foundation]’s general counsel and I know the politics of Miami very well. And I find total unity, which is very surprising to me."

According to the potential Democrat candidates and supporters, polls show weak support for the Diaz-Balart Brothers, Cuba is no longer a central issue allowing for a multi-directional political campaign, and November may be a good time to be a Democrat.

When I mentioned the news last night to my father that both Diaz-Balart Brothers may be challenged in November, he revealed his frustration and relief. "It's time for them to go."

[Photo above courtesy of the Democratic Party of Miami-Dade County]


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