A new report from the Miami Herald is detailing how former Sen. Frank Artiles boasted about his recruitment of a third-party candidate that may have swung a Senate race in Republicans’ favor.
Now-Sen. Ileana Garcia, a Republican, defeated former Democratic Sen. José Javier Rodríguez by only 32 votes, according to a final count recorded by the Department of State. As Garcia won by fewer than three dozen votes, non-party affiliated candidate Alex Rodriguez courted nearly 6,400 votes.
The NPA candidate shares a last name with the ousted Democratic Senator. Democrats have alleged foul play among Republicans in the race, prompting pushback from Garcia. But according to the Herald’s report, Artiles said he indeed had a hand in getting the third-party spoiler to run.
“That is me, that was all me,” Artiles said as he watched the results come in on Nov. 3 at an election night party for Republican Jason Brodeur. The Herald’s reporters say they spoke to a person who attended the party and heard Artiles make the remarks.
Artiles, a former GOP Senator, is a controversial figure. He was forced to resign from the Senate in 2017 after using a racial slur and other derogatory language directed at Black lawmakers while at the Governor’s Club.
Artiles is seeking a career revival. He’s one of seven candidates vying to replace former Miami-Dade County Commissioner — now County Mayor — Daniella Levine Cava.
SD 37 spans portions of Miami-Dade County, including Coral Gables, Key Biscayne, Palmetto Bay and Pinecrest. But Alex Rodriguez, the SD 37 NPA candidate, didn’t reside in Miami-Dade County, instead renting a home in Palm Beach County.
The third-party candidate lent his campaign enough cash to pay the filing fee in June, then failed to campaign or actively fundraise. Several mailers featuring his name — funded by a group called “Proclivity” — were sent to SD 37 residents, though it’s not clear who funded that work.
Prosecutors have launched an investigation into the SD 37 third-party candidate.