The two candidates in the hotly contested Republican primary race for Florida House District 116 head into the final day of campaigning before Tuesday’s primary contest.
Daniel Perez and Jose Mallea will square off in the primary to choose the Republican nominee who will face Democratic candidate Gabriela Mayaudon in a special general election in two months.
The election will determine who will succeed Jose Felix Diaz, a Miami Republican who is leaving the House to run for the vacant Senate District 40 position.
With far more registered voters than Democrats, the district is considered a safe seat for Republicans. Diaz won the election two years ago with 62 percent of the vote.
Maella once worked for U.S. Senator Marco Rubio and served as an advisor for Jeb Bush’s presidential bid last year. Perez, who is running in his first election, is a Miami attorney.
Bush, who had already endorsed Mallea, was featured in a radio spot first aired last week by the Mallea campaign. But, the Doral Republican ran into problems with U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio earlier in the campaign when he used an image of Rubio in a campaign mailer without the senator’s approval.
Both candidates reported strong fundraising efforts the six-week campaign finance reporting period that ended Thursday.
Mallea reported $97,600 in contributions. He also gave his campaign a $24,000 loan.
Perez reported contributions totalling $84,750.
Overall, Mallea has nearly a $100,000 edge in fundraising with more than $262,000.
The race has been downright ugly at times. Both candidates accused each of not living in HD 116.
Mallea attacked Perez for engagement photos that Perez and his fiance had taken in Havana, Cuba, implying the photos were an endorsement of then-President Barack Obama’s lifting of the travel ban to Cuba.
Perez responded by releasing a statement calling Mallea a “deceiving liar” who’s “desperate.”
Whoever wins Tuesday’s primary will face Gabriela Mayaudon, the lone Democrat in the race. Mayaudon moved to South Florida seven years ago. She once served as a legislator in Venezuela.
Mayaudon has reported $1950 in contributions, most of that coming from the Miami-Dade Democratic Party. She also reported loaning her own campaign a $1,000.
The special election will be held September 26.