The two candidates in a fierce battle for an open state Senate seat in Miami-Dade County have temporarily suspended their campaigns due to Hurricane Irma and say they have redirected their efforts to help with preparations for the massive storm.
Democratic businesswoman Annette Taddeo announced Wednesday morning she was putting a pause on her campaign and she called on her opponent -- Republican state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz -- to do the same "to ensure our teams and their families can prepare for the storm."
“Our community’s safety must be our singular focus right now," Taddeo said in a statement. "Therefore, I have instructed my team to move to immediately suspend campaign activities and have asked that we pause any advertising from airing as soon as possible."
In a statement to the Herald/Times, Diaz indicated he had quietly already taken similar steps earlier this week.
"My main priority right now is to make sure that the residents of our community are safe and prepared," Diaz said. "Until Hurricane Irma clears, my state Senate campaign has refocused to emergency preparations mode."
Diaz said he's been in contact with state and local authorities in the past couple days and has also visited community centers and spoken with senior citizens to emphasize preparation. He said, "as of yesterday [Tuesday], all our radio ads were switched to hurricane preparedness messages."
"Needless to say, my efforts are focused on making sure that our community is safe, strong, and ready for the potential impacts of Hurricane Irma," Diaz said.
Taddeo also had urged Miami-Dade residents to heed weather warnings.
The general election for the District 40 seat in southwest Miami-Dade is on Sept. 26.
Photo credit: Annette Taddeo [top], Miami Herald file. Jose Felix Diaz [right], AP.
*This post was updated at 12:50 p.m.