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Newbie Jose Javier Rodriguez poised to defeat Alex Diaz de la Portilla

Political newcomer Jose Javier Rodriguez made a strong showing Tuesday against one of Miami-Dade’s most well-known political figures for a seat in the Florida Legislature.

With some polls open late into the night, Rodriguez had a comfortable lead over veteran Republican lawmaker Alex Diaz de la Portilla in the hard-fought battle for state House District 112.

“We were talking to voters everyday,” Rodriguez said. “We really ran a really grassroots campaign. It was never about my opponent. It was never about the partisan battle lines in Tallahassee either.”

In other races, South Floridians opted to send familiar faces back to Tallahassee.

Voters favored incumbent Gwen Margolis over newcomer John Couriel in the closely watched race for Senate District 35.

More on South Florida's other state House and Senate races here.