Three former South Florida policymakers have joined several other current and former elected officials backing Democratic Sen. Annette Taddeo’s run for Governor.
Former Hialeah City Council member Paul Hernández and former Miami Beach Commissioners Michael Góngora and Joy Malakoff are throwing their support behind Taddeo, whose campaign announced the endorsements Thursday.
“I am honored to be supported by these exceptional public servants,” Taddeo said in a statement. “Each of these leaders has a long history of service in their communities, both in-office and as private citizens. They’ve consistently shown what it means to put the people first.
“These endorsements are just more examples of the broad coalition of people our campaign is bringing together as we prepare to take on Ron DeSantis later this year.”
Hernández, who left the Republican Party and registered as a Democrat shortly after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol Building, said Taddeo will bring needed change to the Governor’s Mansion.
“Tallahassee leadership has grown too comfortable in stripping rights away from local governments, too accustomed to protecting the desires of corporations over the needs of citizens and too concerned with legislating Fox News as opposed to addressing the issues that are important to Floridians,” he said. “Sen. Taddeo has been a tireless advocate for all Floridians. She has consistently fought to improve our community’s access to affordable housing, better public schools and a living wage.
“When Tallahassee repeatedly attempted to interfere with local matters, she defended the autonomy of local governments. As someone who represented one of the Florida cities whose citizens most depend on social programs and responsive government, I am confident our next Governor, Annette Taddeo, will continue to work for all Floridians.”
Malakoff’s public service record includes two stints on the Miami Beach Commission and more than a decade on the city Planning Board, including seven as board chair. She also highlighted Taddeo’s defense of local governmental control.
“She has been a true champion for our right to home rule,” she said. “As Governor, I know she’ll be an ally and not an obstacle to our local government and municipal leaders across the state as we perform the vital tasks that our residents rely on.”
Góngora, who filed to run for Miami Beach Mayor in 2023 shortly before reaching term limits last year, called Taddeo “a true leader who’s dedicated to improving the lives of everyday Floridians.”
“Time and again she has managed to work across the aisle to benefit her constituents,” he said. “We’re going to need Annette’s fighting spirit in the Governor’s Mansion to build a Florida that works for all.”
The recent endorsements join many others. Earlier this month, Miami Shores Village Council member Katia Saint Fleur and former Aventura Commissioner Gladys Mezrahi announced their support.
In February, Miami-Dade County School Board members Lucia Baez-Geller and Luisa Santos joined Orange County School Board Member Johanna López in backing Taddeo. That same month, Latino Victory Fund leaders announced their support.
In January, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava — the county’s first woman Mayor — threw her support behind Taddeo. If elected, Taddeo would become the state’s first woman Governor and its first Latina chief executive.
Other endorsers include Sen. Victor Torres of Orlando, Rep. Kevin Chambliss of Homestead, former Reps. Juan Carlos “J.C.” Planas and Richard Rangel of Osceola County, Miami-Dade Commissioner Jean Monestime, Miami Beach Commissioner and Florida House candidate David Richardson, Orange County Property Appraiser Amy Mercado, former Pinecrest Mayor Cindy Lerner and former Pinecrest Vice Mayor James McDonald.
Taddeo faces several opponents in the Democratic Primary, including U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, who served as a Republican Governor from 2007 to 2011 before swapping parties, and Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, the only statewide elected Democrat in Florida.
The winner of that race will square off against DeSantis, a Republican and powerhouse fundraiser whose war chest dwarfs the combined gains of all his Democratic competition.