Last month, the Miami Herald pointed out that thevast majority of Floridians will have no choice
in choosing who represents them in Tallahassee come November's elections. The deadline to run as a candidate to the Florida Senate and House of Representatives passed in late June and in the final tally, a full third of the state legislature ended up unchallenged.
But that isn't the case in Miami-Dade! Thanks to a new push by local Democrats, every single sitting Republican faces a challenger this year. The question is whether that really matters when none of those challengers has any cash to spend.
"It's going to be a challenge, but we want to get the message out to the Republicans in office: No more free rides," says Rachel Johnson, Dade Democrats' spokeswoman.
The seven candidates are not only far behind in cash on hand, but in time as well. The Democratic challengers all registered on June 4th while each of their counterparts have been fundraising since early 2013. Check out the latest contribution reports (which include loans and donations) for each race:
District 105: Carlos Pereira - $5,760 Carlos Trujillo (R) - $116,835
District 110: Nelson Milian - $3,465 Jose Oliva (R) - $187,060
District 111: Mariano Corcilli - $3,720 Bryan Avila (R) - $100,888 Alex Anthony (R) - $30,145
District 115: Kristopher Decossard - $3,411 Michael Bileca (R) - $153,569
District 116: Juan Carlos Cuba - $4,475 Jose Felix Diaz (R) - $138,265
District 118: Omar Rivero - $3,761 Frank Artiles (R) - $135,343
District 119: Milagro Ruiz - $2,670 Jeanette Nunez (R) - $201,550
So why do the Democrats bother? Well, Nelson Milian, who is running against incumbent Rep. Jose Oliva, says the point is to give voters a choice, even if the playing field isn't exactly level.
"Being an entrepreneur, you have to take risks," says Milian, a Wynwood tech entrepreneur and Hialeah native with no political background. "Millennials have new ideas that aren't being heard and I want to be a part of having these voices heard."
Milian is running in the Hialeah/Miami Lakes district, where there are more Republican registered voters. In the 2012 election, district 110 had 27,333 registered Republicans, 22,900 Democrats, and 19,645 No Party Affiliation (NPA) voters.
Although he is being backed by the Democrats, Milian is registered under as an independent.
"Having no party affiliation will either help me or hurt me, so who knows," Milian said. "I just know that if I can get enough of the youth out to vote, I have a chance."
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The Democratic push will change the ballots voters are looking at this November. Five of the seven districts haven't seen a Democratic candidate since before the 2008 election.
In Miami-Dade, where there are 195,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans, the push makes sense, says Annette Taddeo-Goldstein, chair of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party -- even if the fundraising isn't much of a contest.
"We know it's a long shot, but this is a long-term strategy," Taddeo-Goldstein said. "Even if they don't win, it's a worthwhile cause to educate the voters and show them they do have options in who represents them."