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Florida GOP blocks Renier Diaz de la Portilla from party post

Talk about adding insult to injury.

Renier Diaz de la Portilla lost the Aug. 14 Republican primary for Florida House District 103 to Manny Diaz Jr. But at least Diaz de la Portilla bested Diaz in the race for Republican state committeeman.

Except it appears Diaz de la Portilla won't be allowed to assume the party post.

The Republican Party of Florida sent him and Diaz a letter two weeks ago informing them that Diaz de la Portilla had not filled out a party loyalty oath required to qualify for the committeeman race. The oath was due by noon on June 8. As a result, he will be disqualified -- and Diaz will assume the position instead.

"[A]n exception cannot be made to set aside the impact of your failure to file a loyalty oath with RPOF," the party's general counsel, Emmett "Bucky" Mitchell IV wrote in the letter to Diaz de la Portilla. "As such, I regret to inform you will not be seated as State Committeeman on December 1, 2012."

Since he came in second place, Diaz will become committeeman instead.

"It's truly an honor that I get to serve the party," Diaz said. "It came as a surprise ... It was a technicality."

Diaz de la Portilla said in a series of text messages that it is "not true" that he did not file the loyalty oath.

"Paperwork was sent and I have proof that it was filled out in a timely manner," he said. "I hope to work with party officials to make sure that 30,000 Miami-Dade Republicans are not disenfranchised by this misunderstanding."

Diaz de la Portilla,a former state lawmaker and outgoing Miami-Dade school board member, said he has not had time to address the issue because he is focused on the presidential election.

RPOF executive board members made the disqualification decision at their Oct. 6 quarterly meeting, according to the party.

The legislative race between Diaz and Diaz de la Portilla played out as a proxy vote to determine the House speaker in 2019. Diaz had the backing of state Rep. Jose Oliva, a speaker hopeful who may face opposition from Diaz de la Portilla's brothers. Miguel is a state senator and Alex, a former senator, is running to return to the House.

The committeeman tiff could represent the first round of political maneuvering in a reshaped Miami-Dade delegation where new and old players struggle for power.

Nine candidates had run in the Miami-Dade committeeman race to replace outgoing state Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, who was elected property appraiser. Diaz de la Portilla received 36 percent of the vote and Diaz 22 percent (in third and fourth place came School Board member Carlos Curbelo and state Rep. Frank Artiles, respectively).

Florida law allows candidates for party posts, such as committeeman, to raise unlimited amounts of money without disclosure. The little-known provision  came to light earlier this year when Miami-Dade prosecutors cited it when they closed their investigation into U.S. Rep. David Rivera without filing any charges. Rivera raised as much as $175,000 in undisclosed donations for his committeeman campaigns, prosecutors said.

Diaz did not say how much money he raised, calling it "minimal." He said he was focused on his Hialeah-based legislative campaign.