Democratic Florida Sen. Annette Taddeo has endorsed Cuban American businesswoman Janelle Perez in the Senate District 37 race, adding her name to a list that is likely to grow through next year.
Taddeo, who is rumored to be weighing a 2022 run for Governor, pointed to the person now occupying the office, Ron DeSantis, as one reason why she is backing Perez.
“Governor DeSantis has been acting more like an autocrat and less like a democratically elected Governor,” Taddeo said in a statement Tuesday morning announcing the endorsement. “We need leaders who are going to stand up to the clear overreaches of the Legislature, and Janelle Perez is the right person to do just that. She will always stand by our community, lead by example and is ready to serve the residents of Miami-Dade County.”
Taddeo’s endorsement is the second to come from an elected state Democrat within a week of Perez’s announcement that she was swapping races in her inaugural run for political office. On Sept. 15, Perez told Florida Politics she had canceled her bid to oust U.S. Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar next year and was instead running to flip SD 37 blue by unseating Republican Sen. Ileana Garcia.
Two days later, Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book announced she was endorsing Perez, all but locking in Perez as the preferred Democratic candidate in the contest.
Perez said then she was “truly honored and excited” to gain Book’s support. She shared similar sentiments Tuesday morning regarding Taddeo’s endorsement.
“She is a true trailblazer, a leader in the State Senate and a fighter for the people in the state of Florida,” Perez said of Taddeo in a statement. “Having her support is a reassuring testament to our campaign’s vision for a better future. We are building a grassroots campaign focused on improving healthcare, fighting for voting rights, protecting our children’s health and making sure small businesses and struggling families can recover from this pandemic.”
Perez’s decision to change from a federal to a local race came less than a month and a half after she announced her candidacy for Florida’s 27th Congressional District. Since then, her campaign self-reported raising hundreds of thousands of dollars from grassroots donations. The most recent tally, nearly $300,000, will go into a new political committee called Democracy and Freedom PC.
Longtime Democratic consultant Christian Ulvert, who also chairs Taddeo’s PC, told Florida Politics he will manage Perez’s PC as well.
Garcia, who has $256,000 to defend her seat so far, supplanted incumbent Democratic Sen. José Javier Rodriguez in November by just 34 votes in a race that has since led investigators to accuse former GOP Sen. Frank Artiles of illegally funding a spoiler candidate to siphon votes from Rodriguez.
Garcia denied involvement, and Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle’s office has said it had no evidence Garcia knew of or took part in the scheme.
Democrats still called for Garcia to resign and face a Special Election. She hasn’t.
SD 37 comprises a large portion of Miami-Dade’s coastal communities, including parts of Miami, Key Biscayne, South Miami, Coral Gables, Pinecrest, Palmetto Bay and Cutler Bay, as well as part of West Miami.