The Miami-Dade County Republican Party kicked state Senate candidate Alex Diaz de la Portilla from his party seat Thursday, five days before he competes in a special GOP primary Tuesday.
Diaz de la Portilla lost his Republican Executive Committee seat after failing to attend four party meetings, Chairman Nelson Diaz said. Three absences are enough for disqualification under party rules.
"Everyone's treated the same," Diaz said Friday.
A total of nine REC members got removed Thursday, as first reported by the Florida Politics blog. The list included state Rep. Manny Diaz Jr. of Hialeah. But as a sitting lawmaker, Diaz Jr., no relation to Diaz, will remain an REC member -- just not representing one of 40 party districts.
Diaz de la Portilla, who represented REC District 20, missed four meetings and an organizational meeting in December, when members were sworn in and party officers were elected. That meeting wasn't counted against anyone as an absence, Diaz said.
When members request excused absences, they're usually granted, Diaz added. But Diaz de la Portilla never did.
"I resigned from that post 4 months ago," Diaz de la Portilla said in a text message to a Miami Herald reporter Friday. Asked for proof of his resignation, he didn't respond. Diaz said the REC had never received any such notice from Diaz de la Portilla.
Diaz de la Portilla accused Diaz of bias.
"Nelson Diaz is in violation of party rules that require that he remain neutral during the primary," Diaz de la Portilla said.
Diaz rejected the notion that booting Diaz de la Portilla from the party days before the election could make it look like the local GOP was favoring one of Diaz de la Portilla's opponents.
"We're not taking sides at all," Diaz said. "This is not the party's fault, that Alex failed to show up to any meeting in the last seven months."
Diaz de la Portilla is campaigning for Senate District 40, in a nasty primary against state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz (no relation to the party chairman) and attorney Lorenzo Palomares.
This post has been updated.