Just how important is a win next week for Florida Democrats in the competitive special election for a state Senate seat in Miami-Dade County?
Important enough that former Vice President Joe Biden recorded a campaign call for Annette Taddeo in an effort to give a late boost to the Democrat’s candidacy against Republican state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz.
Taddeo’s campaign announced Biden’s endorsement — and the phone call he recorded for her — on Thursday afternoon, five days before the District 40 election will be decided on Tuesday. Voting early in person and by mail has already started.
“I wanted to call to remind you that voting is underway for a very important special election in your community,” Biden says in the 50-second recording to voters, which is a political ad paid for by Taddeo’s campaign.
“We have a real shot to elect a strong Democrat and proven leader, Annette Taddeo to the state Senate,” Biden continued. “If you believe we need stronger schools, protect access to affordable healthcare and stronger communities then you need to make your plans to vote for Annette Taddeo.”
Taddeo said she was “truly honored” to have Biden’s support.
“This is a people-powered campaign and I am thrilled that he has joined us as we fight for higher-paying jobs, better public schools and affordable healthcare in Miami-Dade,” Taddeo said in a statement.
Biden’s endorsement might be a needed assist for Taddeo. Republicans, to date, have the edge in getting vote-by-mail ballots returned, which likely helps Diaz.
As of Thursday, about 11,900 Republicans had returned absentee ballots, compared to 9,200 Democrats, according to the Miami-Dade County Supervisor of Elections’ office.
That doesn’t include 450 mail-in ballots for which the signatures are pending verification or another 1,200 ballots that have been cast in-person at early voting sites since Saturday.
Victory for Taddeo would bring Democrats one step closer to their long-term goal of taking back control of the Florida Senate, where Republicans hold a 24-15 advantage with the District 40 seat vacant.
It became open last spring after then-Sen. Frank Artiles, R-Miami, was forced to resign in April over racist and insulting remarks he made to a pair of colleagues and over revelations that he’d hired apparently unqualified young women — including a former Hooters “calendar girl” — as campaign consultants.
District 40 is a Hispanic-majority district that spans parts of southwest Miami-Dade County.
Taddeo’s has become a familiar Democratic name on Miami-Dade ballots. She ran unsuccessfully for county commission, Congress and lieutenant governor. Biden didn’t lend his endorsement for her earlier county and congressional campaigns.