David Richardson suspends HD 106 bid, eyes Miami-Dade County Commission

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Richardson may soon drop a run at the Florida House to instead seek a seat on the Miami-Dade County Commission.

Miami Beach Commissioner David Richardson may soon drop his bid to retake a seat in the House this November to instead vie for the soon-to-be vacant seat representing District 5 on the Miami-Dade County Commission.

Richardson confirmed Thursday that he has halted his House District 106 campaign in response to news that Miami-Dade Commissioner Eileen Higgins is leaving office early this year to run for Congress.

He’s not sure he’ll run, he said, but people have been asking him about it since Sunday, when campaign consultant Christian Ulvert shared that Higgins planned to announce her candidacy in Florida’s 27th Congressional District.

First, he needs to speak with supporters and stakeholders, seek input on how the switch will affect his campaign finances and determine how best to approach a comparatively expedited county contest.

“I need to talk to some of my supporters, donors and some community leaders,” he said. “I also have some legal questions as well concerning the donations that have been made and the potential to transfer them to this other race, pending approval by donors.

“And, of course, there’s the timing. Commissioner Higgins has not yet resigned.”

Miami-Dade Commission District 5 covers most of Miami Beach, the unincorporated area of Fisher Island, and parts of the Miami neighborhoods of Brickell, Brickell Key, Grapeland, Little Havana, Shenandoah and The Roads.

Florida’s resign-to-run law requires Higgins to tender her resignation from the Miami-Dade Commission seat by early June. She would have to leave office by early 2023.

The move by Richardson comes just over two months after he filed for HD 106, which covers an area he represented in the House from 2012 to 2018.

He cited divisive bills advancing through the Legislature during the 2022 Session, including one (HB 1557) that has since received Gov. Ron DeSantis’ signature and will closely regulate LGBTQ instruction in public school, as motivation.

Richardson made history as one of the first openly gay candidates elected to the Legislature.

In his first month of fundraising, he hauled in $477,000 between his campaign account and political committee, Floridians for Better Government PC, inclusive of a $260,000 self-loan and more than 100 direct donations from people giving checks ranging from $5 to $1,000.

Speaking to Florida Politics, Richardson noted he has worked with most of the Miami-Dade Commission for years as a member of the House, City Commission and the powerful Miami-Dade Transportation Planning Organization Governing Board.

While he and Higgins share many of the same priorities, Richardson said his penchant for crunching numbers clearly distinguishes him from her and other candidates.

“I have a much stronger financial background only because I’ve been a certified public accountant for more than 30 years in Florida, so most people think of me as the budget guy,” he said. “I intend to get really involved in budget matters, understanding the budget, fiscal opportunities and that sort of thing.”

Word arose Richardson was eying the Miami-Dade Commission after Ulvert — who works for both Higgins and Richardson, among many other Florida Democrats — shared an email with reporters that Richardson sent him just after 1 p.m. Thursday.

“While I know there are several steps that will come from Commissioner Higgins’ exciting announcement, I know that the right move for me is to suspend my campaign for State Representative and have conversations with residents, neighbors, community leaders and others on a potential path forward to run for County Commission should a Special Election be called,” Richardson said in the email. “I believe this is the best direction given our opportunities to address pressing challenges.”

He added that he will make a formal decision on whether to run for the County Commission “as we learn more about the potential for a Special Election.”

Richardson’s possible departure from the HD 106 race clears the path for Jordan Leonard, a former Bay Harbor Islands Mayor who had raised more than $324,000 through March 31.

Leonard, who would become the only Democratic candidate running in the district if Richards drops out, has garnered a wave of endorsements since filing to run for state office last year, including nods from outgoing Democratic Rep. Joe Geller and Miami-Dade Commissioner Sally Heyman, whose district overlaps much of HD 106.

Other candidates in the race include Republican former realty TV star Fabían Basabe, who has loaned his campaign $250,000, and Republican community leader Wena “Lynn Su” Sutjapojnukul, a mortgage lender who has served on several local advisory boards.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


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