Osceola County Commissioner John "Q" Quiñones (R) will run for Congress in Florida's new strongly Democratic 9th district, he announced yesterday.
Quiñones, a former state Representative, faces a handful of Republicans in the primary. The winner of that contest will take on likely Democratic nominee former Rep. Alan Grayson in a district that would have voted 60 percent for Barack Obama in 2008. Quiñones, 46, is the second Latino GOP candidate to throw his hat in the ring. The district is more than 44 percent Hispanic.
But that doesn't necessarily mean he, or any Latino candidate, has a straight shot at the nomination.
“The assumption that it’s a Hispanic district doesn’t include who is going to be voting in the Republican primary,” said one Florida Republican operative, noting that the general election race could very well come down to two non-Latino candidates. Whoever the GOP candidate is, he will likely be able to raise a lot of money running against the outspoken liberal firebrand Grayson.
In an interview, Quiñones said he was running for Congress because he's familiar with the district and believes the issue of "bringing some efficiency and some streamlining into the federal regulations is one that [he is] certainly passionate about."
He said his whole former state legislative district is in the the new 9th and he wants to continue to represent and serve his constituents.
"At the end of the day, the calling to serve is one I take very seriously," Quiñones said.
He steered clear of national issues.
When asked whether he supported Wisconsin GOP Rep. Paul Ryan's controversial budget plan, he demurred.
"There's going to be time to debate and to go into the details," Quiñones said. "As we move forward, we're going to put forward a comprehensive plan of issues that I'd like to bring forth when I become a Congressman."
When asked whether he would have voted to raise the debt ceiling last summer, he declined to answer. "The over and out-of-control spending is something that I'm passionate about," he said, noting he lowered taxes on the local level.
Roll Call rates the race as Likely Democratic.