State Rep. Daisy Baez’s short-lived candidacy for the Florida Senate came to an end Friday, doomed politically by a crowded Democratic primary and the likelihood that she’d be attacked as a carpetbagger.
Baez dropped out of the race for Senate District 40 just 19 days after her candidacy began, citing her ailing mother’s deteriorating health.
“My life today is a direct reflection of my mother’s decision to immigrate to this country and work multiple jobs to ensure that I could live the American Dream,” Baez, who is Dominican American, said in a statement. “Just after announcing my intention to run for the Florida Senate, my mother’s health deteriorated and it became clear to me that spending time with her now is of the utmost importance. As her daughter, caring for her is my number one priority. Therefore, I will not pursue a campaign for the Florida Senate.”
On Tuesday, the Miami Herald reported that Baez appears to live outside her House district, which would violate a Florida constitutional requirement. Then came a Democratic poll that showed Baez, a freshman lawmaker, trailing far behind her primary rivals, businesswoman Annette Taddeo and former state Rep. Ana Rivas Logan.
Democrats pressured Baez to reconsider her candidacy, which would have left vacant a competitive House seat eyed by Republicans. A loss might have also damaged the chances for Baez, a well-liked U.S. Army vet, to run for higher office in the future.
“I will spend the upcoming weeks with my family and continue to use my voice in the Florida House to speak out clearly and forcefully to fight for better jobs, to protect our environment, to ensure we all have access to affordable health care, and to support our public schools,” Baez’s statement said.
Earlier Friday, she had declined to comment on her candidacy, dismissing talk about her imminent withdrawal as “rumors.”
Baez was already under the clock to commit to the race: She would have had to file a letter resigning from her House seat by Saturday, 10 days before qualifying begins for the Senate race. Qualifying for the special July 25 primary and Sept. 26 general election starts May 30.
The Herald found Baez still owns a home she shares with her two rescue dogs in House District 112, though she represents House District 114. She claims to keep two residences and rent an apartment in District 114 — but a neighbor from the boutique building told the Herald that Baez doesn’t live there.
The poll, conducted by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling for the nonprofit Florida Alliance, a Democratic fundraising group, found Taddeo comfortably leading the primary field. Taddeo drew 33 percent support, compared to Rivas Logan’s 14 percent and Baez’s 10 percent. A plurality of respondents, 43 percent, said they weren’t sure whom they’d vote for.
Taddeo, who owns a translating business, has never been elected. But she’s been on the ballot four times, as a candidate for Miami-Dade County Commission, for lieutenant governor and twice for Congress, and frequently appears on all-important Spanish-language broadcast media as a Democratic pundit.
Rivas Logan was on the Miami-Dade School Board for six years before serving one term in the Florida House as a Republican. She later spurned the GOP. Rivas Logan ran for the Senate seat last year, but came in second after a rowdy Democratic primary.
Unlike Baez, Taddeo and Rivas Logan both live in Senate District 40, a swath of Southwest Miami-Dade that had been represented by Frank Artiles, a Republican, until last month, when he resigned after he unleashed a diatribe of offensive remarks to two fellow senators.
The district leans Democratic — Hillary Clinton won it by double digits over Donald Trump — and represents Democrats’ best hope of nabbing a 16th seat in the 40-member Senate. It will be the first election for incoming Democratic Leader Jeff Clemens of Lake Worth, who is leading the Senate Democratic campaign arm, and for new Florida Democratic Party Chairman Stephen Bittel.
Democrats had tried to clear the primary field for Baez, urging her to announce her candidacy early and helping her secure endorsements from gubernatorial candidates Andrew Gillum and Gwen Graham. But Rivas Logan and especially Taddeo, a Bittel foe, were undeterred.
Among the Republicans running are state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, former state Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla and attorney Lorenzo Palomares-Starbuck.