A number of Florida House seats in the 305 will be vacated by term-limited legislators next year — and already there election2018are a bunch of wannabes getting in line to replace ’em.

David Rivera jumped into the race for District 105 last week, which would pit him against Doral Councilwoman Ana Maria Rodriguez, who filed her campaign paperwork in December for the seat vacated by State Rep. Carlos Trujillo.

But that’s not the only GOP primary already shaping up for 2018. There are three others.

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In District 119, where State Rep. Jeanette Nunez serves now, Republicans Enrique Lopez and Andrew Vargas have already opened up campaign accounts. Lopez has loaned himself $50,000 and raised another $33,240 in February alone. Vargas just filed last month so he has nothing to report. Ladra hears that Commissioner Joe Martinez‘s daughter may also consider a run there.

In District 116, where Rep. Jose Felix Diaz is getting a time-out, Republicans Jose Mallea and Daniel Anthony Perez have also made their intentions clear. Neither has raised any money yet.


Say buh-bye: In this picture, only Rep. Jose Oliva (top, left) is not termed out.

There are three Republicans already raising money for a campaign in District 115, where Rep. Michael Bileca will be termed out: Vance Aloupis, Carlos Gobel and Carmen Sotomayor. Only Sotomayor has reported raising any money, and its $100 at that, having filed in January. Both Alupis and Gobel filed last month and have not had to file any campaign reports yet.

Each of these are already Republican seats and it’s curious that no Democrats have yet shown their faces, especially in 105 and 115, both of which are seats where Obama did well.

Instead, we have Republicans dominating the early game, with two GOP challengers filing against two of the three newly-minted, freshman Democrats. Jose Pazos, who abandoned his campaign last year due to his father’s health, is going against Rep. Daisy Baez in 114 and Rosy Palomino, who lost last year against Nicholas Duran in 112 (53-47%), wants a rematch.

You just know someone is going to file against the other freshman Dem, State Rep. Robert Asencio in 118. Give it another month or two.

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Republican Florida House candidate Rosy Palomino, who is running olivacanterafor a Democrat-held vacated seat that the GOP really wants to turn, has two Tallahassee big wigs helping her get there.

Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera and State Rep. Jose Oliva, slated to be Florida Speaker of the House in 2018, top a host committee, still in formation for a Palomino fundraiser in Coral Gables Tuesday.

“No one is more surprised than me,” Palomino said Saturday. “Wow. Maybe they have nothing else to do.”

This type of self-deprecating, down-to-Earth talk is not a schtick. It’s just Rosy being Rosy. When Ladra spoke to the educator and community activist Saturday, she was stressing out about not having any non-perishables at home in case Hurricane Matthew comes this way.palomino-head-shot

“Not even a can of salchichas. What Cuban doesn’t have a can of salchichas? All I have is water because I’ve been canvassing,” said Palomino, who lost a bid for Miami city commission last year, so she’s actually been canvassing much of the district for years.

A district that Lopez-Cantera represented from 2004 to 2012. “He still lives in the district. He cares about who represents it,” said Palomino campaign manager Hector Roos.

Which may explain his presence. But Oliva? Or State Rep. Carlos Trujillo (Doral), who is also on the host committee? Well, other Republicans might care about what may very well be the only reversable House seat in the state this November. It is also the only one of 35 contested House races without an incumbent. It was vacated relatively late, in March, by Democrat State Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez, who is running for state Senate.

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Tuesday’s event at the Knights of Columbus will be Palomino’s first event since the primary, which she won with 61% Rosy inviteover Michael Davey.

The other hosts so far are Coral Gables Mayor Jim Cason and — coming out of self-imposed early retirement — former Gables Commissioner William “Billy” Kerdyk, who was termed out of office in 2015 and opted out of a mayoral run. Is he plotting a comeback in 2017? Who knew he was Republican? Only a tiny sliver of the Gables, east of Le Jeune Road, is in the district, which also encompasses much of Miami and all of Key Biscayne.

Maybe the VIP GOP headliners will be able to inject Palomino’s campaign with some cash. Palomino, who ran unsuccessfully for a Miami city commission seat won last year by Commissioner Ken Russell, has spent all the $15,000 or so she raised as of Sept. 16, according to finance reports at the Florida Division of Elections.

duranlinkedinMeanwhile, her opponent, Nicholas Duran — son-in-law of former Miami-Dade Democratic Party Chairman Mike Abrams, a former state rep (North Miami Beach/Aventura) and current lobbyist with Ballard Partners — has about $50,000 left in the $157K he raised. And that doesn’t count the $55,000 of in-kind donations for staff and research from the Florida Democratic Party — in a primary, no less.

The GOP did not get involved in the primary. But maybe Tuesday’s fundraiser is a sign that they will now.

“We’re looking forward to it,” Roos said.

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