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Joe Martinez says he’ll challenge Joe Garcia

Joe Martinez, the former Miami-Dade Commission chairman who lost his bid to become county mayor last year, said Friday that he intends to run against U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia in 2014.

“I’m meeting with different people and feeling them out, seeing what the level of support will be there,” Martinez told The Miami Herald shortly after announcing his intentions on Facebook. He wants to get in the race, Martinez said, “to shake it up.”

Martinez’s name has been floated in political circles in connection with the 26th Congressional District since Garcia, a Democrat, defeated incumbent Republican Rep. David Rivera in November. The district extends from Kendall to Key West.

Cites experience

Martinez, a Republican, said he sees himself as a pragmatist in tune with residents’ needs after his 12 years on the County Commission, including two terms as chairman. In his first term, former Mayor Carlos Alvarez campaigned for a strong-mayor referendum. In his second, Alvarez was recalled.

Both times, Martinez said, he helped lead the county. “It actually ran really smoothly,” Martinez said.

He gave up his seat last year to unsuccessfully challenge Mayor Carlos Gimenez. Martinez said Friday that he has since opened a public relations and business development consulting firm.

Focused on duties

Garcia’s chief of staff, Jeffrey Garcia (no relation), said that the congressman “is focused on doing the work that the people sent him here to do.”

“There’ll be plenty of time for politics later,” he added.

Martinez, conceding that “it’s too early to tell” how well Garcia will do as a freshman congressman, said he’s committed to running in two years.

“I’ve survived Miami-Dade politics,” he said. “What’s Washington?”