Is there a South Florida primary legislative race nastier than the one between Republican Reps. Jose Felix Diaz and Ana Rivas Logan?
The Republican incumbents, facing off against each other after redistricting drew them into the same Kendall-based district, traded jabs Wednesday at the Miami Herald editorial board. Diaz said Logan campaign workers going door-to-door have incorrectly told voters that he is gay. Logan said she plans to hire a private investigator because her fliers are being removed from voters' doors and mailboxes.
"Because I don't vote party line, because I don't tout the boys' agenda -– the good ol' boys in Tallahassee -- I'm being targeted," Logan said.
Said Diaz: "This is the sad part of campaigning. It becomes so adversarial."
Logan has taken particular issue with a flier noting that she was born in Nicaragua –- the kind of ethnic distinction sometimes made in Miami-Dade elections, where the most reliable voters are of Cuban descent. Logan's parents left Cuba for Nicaragua. Diaz was born in Miami to Cuban parents.
Last week, Logan got so upset over the attacks that she left a tearful voice message to a Herald reporter and was on the verge of tears when speaking about the issue to another Herald reporter.
"They're making calls to the little old Cubans, telling them, 'Don't vote for her. She's a Nicaraguan. Your commitment is with the Cuban vote,'" Logan told the editorial board. "Well, if I was African-American and they were doing that, guess what, there'd be a lawsuit."
The flier was paid for by Tell the Public the Facts, an electioneering communications organization (ECO) that has most recently reported hiring a consulting firm run by David Custin, who is also working on Diaz's campaign. (Update: Diaz tells us, and his campaign finance reports show, that Custin is not working on his campaign.)
Another flier and a Spanish-language radio ad, put forth by a different group, tries to link Logan, a former Miami-Dade school board member, to former Schools Superintendent Rudy Crew and the controversy over whether to remove the book Vamos a Cuba from school libraries. That flier was paid for by Conservatives United, a recently formed ECO out of Melbourne.
Logan, for her part, noted that Diaz voted for SB 408 last year, a sweeping insurance bill that allowed for an increase to Citizens Property Insurance premiums to go up, in some cases. Diaz countered that the measure, among other things, was necessary to redefine sinkhole coverage, and disputed that the rates would go up as far as Logan claimed.
Diaz, who has raised $243,835 to Logan's $138,470, has been hit by a flier saying he did not support a legislative measure to further restrict abortions, and by a piece saying he voted to approve a tuition hike at public universities.
"When they're knocking on doors, they're saying everything: that I'm pro-abortion, that I'm gay,” said Diaz, the vice-chairman of the Miami-Dade legislative delegation, who is married and has two children. "That I voted for a 15-percent increase for [Florida International University] tuition."
The first mailer was paid for by Citizen Action, an ECO registered to Logan consultant Keith Donner. The second came from Parents for Better Education, an ECO registered earlier this year with the county elections department to a Bobbie Mesa of West Miami-Dade. (The other committees mentioned in this post are registered with the state division of elections.)
In addition to the campaign infighting, Logan has been hit by a Florida House ethics complaint from J.C. Planas, a Republican former state representative and lawyer. Planas, who supports Diaz in the race, says Logan broke Florida House rules when Vision 305, a Committee of Continuous Existence (CCE) registered to Donner, reported accepting contributions during the legislative session in January. Vision 305’s website lists as "associated" legislators and candidates Logan and three Democrats: Sen. Gwen Margolis, Rep. John Patrick Julien and candidate Adam Kravitz.
In the complaint, Planas says CCEs "are intricately associated with the member and must abide by the fundraising restrictions imposed on the member unlike other CCEs unaffiliated with any election official."
Logan, however, said in an interview last week that she does not run the committee. "That's not my CCE," she said. "That's not my money."
Logan told the editorial board Wednesday that groups and other Miami-Dade lawmakers have sided with Diaz "because I'm a woman. An independent woman."
Diaz, however, had none of it.
"This isn't about men versus women, and I don't want it painted as that," he said. "In politics, people get attacked and it's not because of their gender. It's because of their record. And everything there is on her record."
Both lamented that the campaign has gotten so ugly.
"It sucks," Diaz said. "It really sucks."
Quipped Logan: "Listen, he could have moved somewhere else."
--CHRISTINA VEIGA AND PATRICIA MAZZEI