POLITICS

Manny Diaz looks like he's dropping out of Florida governor's race

 

mcaputo@MiamiHerald.com

Former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz is considering whether to leave Florida’s gubernatorial race, a decision that could make it easier for former Republican governor Charlie Crist to sew up the Democratic primary.

For days, political insiders have buzzed with speculation that Diaz won’t stay in the race — for unspecified family reasons — and Diaz isn’t doing much to quell the talk.

“No decision yet,” he said in a brief text message in response to a question about whether he’d drop out of the race.

Top advisors say they’re not sure, either.

“I don’t know if he’s staying in,” said Richard Lydecker, Miami-Dade’s former Democratic Party chairman.

“He hasn’t decided if he has decided,” Lydecker added.

Diaz has tried to keep his potential candidacy under wraps for months.

In January, he avoided reporters’ calls on the matter — even though he was plugging his new book, Miami Transformed, and the attention wouldn’t have hurt sales.

Then, sometime in late February, Diaz went from appearing to run hard for office by lining up supporters and insiders to not returning their calls.

A poll last month showed Diaz had formidable challenges: He’s largely unknown.

Diaz would earn only 4 percent of the vote in a theoretical matchup against Crist (43 percent), 2010 gubernatorial Democratic candidate Alex Sink (14 percent), former Weston state Sen. Nan Rich (1 percent) and former Orlando-area congressional candidate Val Demings (1 percent).

Rich is the only announced candidate of those who were polled in the survey conducted by Hamilton Campaigns, a firm that typically works for Democrats. Sink has been lukewarm about running and, though she’s being urged to run, Demings appears unlikely at the moment.

The poll showed that Crist was the strongest candidate to face Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who appears to be in a stronger position for reelection than many Democrats had hoped.

In a theoretical matchup, Crist tied Scott 41-41 percent. Sink narrowly lost to Scott 37-42 percent. And Diaz lost most-handily to Scott: 33-42 percent.

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