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Miami-Dade mayor to headline fundraiser for Hialeah lawmaker running for property appraiser

@PatriciaMazzei

Eddy Gonzalez is already leading the money race against Pedro J. Garcia to become Miami-Dade County's next property appraiser. But he will try to further widen the gap Tuesday night with a big-name fundraiser featuring County Mayor Carlos Gimenez.

Gimenez had quietly endorsed Gonzalez, a Republican state lawmaker from Hialeah, who is in a runoff against Garcia, the former property appraiser ousted two years ago by Carlos Lopez-Cantera, who is now Florida's lieutenant governor.

Tuesday's fundraiser is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, according to an email invitation. Among the other local politicos hosting the event are County Commissioners Esteban "Steve Bovo, Jose "Pepe" Diaz, Jean Monestime, Rebeca Sosa and Juan C. Zapata; and state Reps. Frank Artiles, Michael Bileca, Jose Felix Diaz, Manny Diaz Jr., Erik Fresen, Jeanette Nuñez, Jose Oliva and Carlos Trujillo.

The nonpartisan property appraiser's race has failed to draw the attention it did two years ago, when it was a far pricklier race.

Garcia has cast his campaign as similar to the one he had to run in 2012, against much of the county's political establishment. But Gonzalez, despite having followed Lopez-Cantera as the chairman of the Miami-Dade legislative delegation, has not run as high-profile a campaign, though he has raised more than twice as much as Garcia.

But political insiders say that if Garcia, who is also a Republican, is able to harness Democratic and independent voters, he could build a coalition large enough that, along with his familiar name -- he became the county's first elected property appraiser in 2008 -- might be enough to regain his seat.

In the first round of the election Aug. 26, Garcia placed first among five candidates with 35 percent of the vote, compared to Gonzalez's 26 percent.

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