September 2, 2014

Florida Politics

Seats Up for Grabs

A move away from partisan politics is stroking heated congressional battles and spelling trouble for incumbents across Florida. Here's a roundup.

Amy Keller | 6/1/2008
Lincoln Diaz-Balart [R]
Lincoln Diaz-Balart [R]
Raul Martinez [D]
Raul Martinez [D]

21st District

Incumbent: Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R)

District: Most of Hialeah and Kendall

Background: Since 1992, when he was first elected, Diaz-Balart has enjoyed a comfortable tenure in office with little to no competition for this Hispanic majority district. All that changed on Jan. 22, when former Hialeah Mayor Raul Martinez, a Democrat, announced he would challenge the longtime lawmaker.

The race will likely engender a vigorous debate over U.S. policy toward Cuba. While Diaz-Balart supports a hard line on Cuba, Martinez is in favor of easing the Bush administration’s travel restrictions on Cuban émigrés, although he does not support an end to the four-decade embargo of the island.

The race will almost certainly get dirty and personal. Upon Martinez’s entry into the race, Jim Greer, chairman of the Florida Republican Party, denounced Democrats for recruiting a candidate “who was convicted on charges of corruption and never acquitted by any jury” and accused Martinez of having a “record of corruption, crude behavior and offensive rhetoric.”

Lincoln Diaz-Balart told the Miami Herald he will not be defeated: ‘I will talk about my record, my achievements, about all that I’ve done all these years in Washington for this community. My
record speaks for itself.’.
The former mayor was convicted on six counts of conspiracy, extortion and racketeering in the early 1990s and sentenced to prison, but the charges were dropped on appeal. Last September, after Greer criticized Sen. Hillary Clinton for attending a fund raiser at Martinez’s house, an angry Martinez referred to Greer using a vulgar term for a female body part and offered “to have a debate mano a mano” if any Republican wanted to “take him on.”

Tags: Politics & Law, Around Florida, Government/Politics & Law

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