Florida: Ex-Hialeah Mayor to Challenge L. Diaz-Balart

Posted January 22, 2008 at 6:46pm

House Democrats have enlisted former Hialeah Mayor Raul Martinez (D) to take on eight-term Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R), according to local media reports.

Martinez was expected to announce his candidacy this week. The Miami Herald reported Tuesday that the race will “pit two South Florida political titans,” who are both widely respected by many Cuban Americans, a crucial voting bloc in the district.

The Herald piece also detailed how Martinez likely will offer Diaz-Balart his most serious challenge yet as an incumbent Member. The Miami-based district gave President Bush 57 percent of the vote in the 2004 White House election.

Martinez, a once-promising political up-and-comer, was convicted of corruption — which was ultimately thrown out. But an issue Diaz-Balart suggested in the Herald piece may become a fixture in the campaign.

“I think he’s unfit to be trusted with public office, and his record shows that,” Diaz-Balart said. “His record is not only of corruption but also vulgarity.”

19-Term Congressman Feeling Young at Heart

Rep. Bill Young (R) told local media outlets last week that he intends to run for a 20th term this year.

According to The St. Petersburg Times, Young, who has not drawn a credible Democratic challenger, has not yet formally announced his candidacy but will soon restart the engines for his re-election bid, starting with a Feb. 25 fundraiser with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R).

Young had nearly $580,000 in cash on hand as of Sept. 30, according to his most recently filed campaign finance report.

The St. Petersburg-area 10th district is competitive in presidential elections, but Democrats may not heavily contest it now that Young is running again.
— Matthew Murray