Manny Roman, the vice-chairman of the Miami-Dade Republican Party, wrote in a letter to the Miami Herald editor published Saturday that he's chosen to back neither of his party's two local presidential candidates.
Instead, Roman is endorsing Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
"I had every reason to support Senator [Marco] Rubio instead — he is a well-liked local Republican and my colleague on the faculty at Florida International University (he teaches politics, while I teach business)," Roman wrote. "However, even in an environment where there is overwhelming indirect pressure to get behind one of the local candidates, Ted Cruz’s story and platform break through all the noise."
Cruz shared Roman's letter on his Twitter account.
"Ted Cruz has demonstrated time and time again that he is not afraid to take on the Washington Establishment." https://t.co/vmh5jOVvY9— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) December 26, 2015
Roman said in an email to a Herald reporter that he has joined Cruz's campaign as a Miami-Dade County chairman.
"We are working on implementing the same grassroots-focused strategy in Miami-Dade that has worked so well in other key states," Roman said. "I am just one of several leaders in South Florida that is super energized and working to see Ted win the nomination."
Read Roman's letter here.
UPDATE: Here's a response to Roman's endorsement from Miami-Dade GOP Chairman Nelson Diaz, a friend of Rubio's who has not made a formal 2016 endorsement:
It is inappropriate for party leaders to put their thumbs on the scales of what should grassroots elections. The Republican Party doesn’t endorse candidates in contested primaries for a reason: we let the grassroots decide who our nominee should be. Moreover, it is a violation of Party Rules (and the Loyalty Oath we all signed) to use our titles and position to endorse one Republican over another. Privately, of course, we can all support the candidate of our choice, but using our titles and positions is not only a violation of our rules but also a violation of the trust that party members placed in us. The nominee should win by election of the grassroots, in a bottom-up manner, not a top-down push by party leadership. This is why I have stayed publicly neutral in this primary season. It is my hope that other party leaders don’t try to put their thumbs on the scales as well.