Cutler Bay Mayor Ed MacDougall, who has spent the past few months opposing the Miami Dolphins' now-defunct push for a subsidized stadium renovation, plans to challenge Democratic Congressman Joe Garcia.
MacDougall, a Republican who has already opened a fundraising account, will kick off his campaign Wednesday night.
"I've lived in South Dade for 50 years -- this is where I grew up," he said. "My children live here, my grandchildren live here. This is part of my soul, South Dade, and I don't believe it's had proper representation."
MacDougall is the first candidate to file paperwork to run against Garcia for the 26th Congressional district that stretches from Kendall to Key West. Former Miami-Dade Commission Chairman Joe Martinez said earlier this year he would also seek the seat but has yet to begin fundraising. Both MacDougall and Martinez are former police officers.
The GOP sees a potential pickup opportunity in the swing district, which had been represented by Republicans before district lines were redrawn in 2012 to make it more competitive. Garcia won a two-year term after defeating U.S. Rep. David Rivera last year.
MacDougall has been warming up for the run by opposing the Dolphins' efforts. He traveled to Tallahassee with ally Norman Braman to speak against the team's proposal and tried to rally support for local politicians. The stadium-renovation push ended last week after state lawmakers failed to take action on Dolphins-backed legislation.
"As every other elected official, I'd like to believe I had something to do with this," MacDougall said.
MacDougall, who was elected mayor in 2010 after four years as vice-mayor, said he intends to campaign on achievements in Cutler Bay, the South Miami-Dade town of about 40,000 residents. Among them, he said, are bringing a high school to the town and joining with neighboring cities to form a green corridor. Property owners in those municipalities may qualify for low-interest financing to install energy-saving equipment such as solar panels, which MacDougall said he installed in late January.
He listed education, energy and the environment as key issues he's interested in, as well as small government and job creation.
"I want to make sure that the people down here are represented," MacDougall said. Of Garcia, he added: "He lives on Miami Beach, and I don't think he really has a feel for South Dade the way that I do."
Members of Congress are not required to live in the districts they represent.
MacDougall's kickoff event at the Palmetto Bay Village Center on Wednesday evening will be hosted by a slew of current and former Pinecrest, Palmetto Bay and Cutler Bay elected officials and activists.