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Miami Democrats running for Congress start rolling out endorsements

@PatriciaMazzei

It's August 2017 and Democrats competing in a crowded field for a Miami congressional seat are already trying to one-up each other in the endorsement game, a full year ahead of the 2018 primary election.

To wit: Candidate Matt Haggman said Wednesday he's been backed by former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz.

Haggman's announcement followed state Rep. David Richardson, who said Tuesday he's secured the support of former Miami-Dade County Commissioner Katy Sorenson.

Richardson's announcement followed state Sen. José Javier Rodríguez, who said earlier Tuesday he's won the endorsement of South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard.

So, why the rush to reveal endorsements when few people are paying attention?

Rodríguez, who has been reluctant to bash President Donald Trump, was shoring up his liberal bona fides. Richardson, who's positioned himself as the most left-leaning candidate of the bunch, was showing his establishment support. Haggman, one of several non-Hispanic white candidates in the race, was signaling he has Hispanic support. (Haggman named Diaz a campaign co-chair along with six others in a diverse group: Adriana Cisneros, Brian Bilzin, Al Dotson, Darlene Boytell-Perez, Felecia Hatcher and Marta Viciedo.) 

Mostly, though, the candidates need to attract donors early on in the race. There are seven -- possibly eight -- people vying for the nomination in Florida's Democratic-leaning 27th district. All are tapping much of the same local Democratic donor pool.

But if Trump's victory last year proved anything in politics, it's that endorsements might not matter much at all. The only exceptions might be if the endorser can attract new donors, bring organized grassroots supporters, or serve as surrogates in, say, Spanish-language media outlets for non-bilingual candidates.

Whether the endorsements announced this week do any of that probably won't be obvious until...next year. Or at least the next fundraising quarter.

The other candidates running are former state Judge Mary Barzee Flores, Miami Beach Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez, University of Miami academic adviser Michael Hepburn and Mark Anthony Person. Miami Commissioner Ken Russell is also considering a run.

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