GOP insider, Democratic outsider compete to succeed moderate Republican in HD 115

Alina Garcia Christie Cantin Davis
One has raised nearly 50 times as much as the other.

Two first-time state candidates — one a long-entrenched GOP operative, the other a Democratic newcomer with a background in health care insurance and budgeting — are competing for the seat representing House District 115 in Miami-Dade County.

Since 2018, the Republican-leaning district has been served by Republican Rep. Vance Aloupis, a moderate conservative who announced in April that he was forgoing a third term to spend more time with his family.

That left HD 115, which covers the coastal municipalities of Cutler Bay, Palmetto Bay, Pinecrest and the unincorporated neighborhoods of The Falls, Kendall and Westchester, without representation.

Enter Alina García, whose work history in politics spans three decades. She served as U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s first legislative aide when he was elected to the Florida House in 1999. Later, she worked for Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, Hialeah Mayor Esteban “Steve” Bovo, Miami Commissioner Joe Carollo, former U.S. Rep. David Rivera and former state Sen. Frank Artiles.

Needless to say, she’s seen and done a lot in The Process. She’s also raised a healthy chunk of change since filing to run for office in December 2021. Through Oct. 21, she amassed more than $638,000 between her campaign account and political committee, Florida Always First.

Of that, she had about $179,000 remaining less than a month before Election Day.

She also received more than $121,000 worth of in-kind aid, most of it from the Republican Party of Florida for campaign staff, research, polling, travel, photography, food and beverage, and phone banking expenses.

Her opponent, Democratic Palmetto Bay resident Christie Cantin Davis, has not received congruous support.

Cantin Davis, who filed to run just weeks from the qualifying deadline, has recorded no in-kind aid from the Democratic Party. Her fundraising has almost exclusively been grassroots, totaling less than $13,000 through late October, and includes $2,000 she gave herself to kick off her campaign June 9.

She had roughly that sum left by Oct. 21.

A former Republican who told the Miami Herald she grew up in a “household that revered (Ronald) Reagan,” Davis ultimately switched parties and cites the overturning of Roe v. Wade as motivation to run for office this year.

She works for her brother’s health insurance company. Prior to that, she served as Carnival Cruise Line’s marketing budget manager for a decade. The background each position provided would inform her role as a public policymaker well, she believes.

Cantin Davis is running on a platform prioritizing women’s reproductive rights, seeking sensible gun reforms, supporting teachers and schools through better budget apportionments and repealing two flagship measures backed by Gov. Ron DeSantis she called “meaningless and unnecessary.”

One is the Parental Rights in Education measure, which critics dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law. It restricts classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual preference in public school classrooms.

The other law, known as the Stop WOKE Act, restricts classroom and workplace instruction that tells students and employees they are inherently racist or oppressed because of their race, color, sex or national origin, among other things.

Cantin Davis has received endorsements from the Kendall Federation of Homeowner Associations, the National Association of Social Workers, the LGBTQ+ Democratic Caucus, the Florida Leadership Council, the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida, Flamingo Democrats, SAVE Action Plan and Florida Planned Parenthood.

García, conversely, is a self-proclaimed anti-abortion, anti-communism candidate and outspoken DeSantis supporter, whom she has called a “strong leader (who understands) we must build an economic environment that allows small businesses to thrive, protect our coast and water supply, and give our children access to the best education tools available.”

Her platform includes providing parents more control over their children’s education, giving “meaningful relief” to homeowners through property insurance reform and doubling Florida’s homestead exemption from $50,000 to $100,000.

She also wants to permanently reduce Florida’s state gas tax, give additional support to first responders and uphold the Parental Rights in Education law.

In endorsing her, Rubio called García “a consensus-builder and commonsense leader who will never stop fighting for our community.” Republican House Speaker-designate Paul Renner described her as “an experienced public servant who has earned the respect of her community.”

García also has the organizational backing of the National Rifle Association, the Florida House Republican Campaign Committee, the Hispanic Police Officers Association, the Florida Police Benevolent Association, the Fraternal Order of Police, the Dade County Medical Association, the Florida Nurse Association, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Associated Builders and Contractors, Associated Industries of Florida and the South Florida Council of Firefighters.

Other support for García’s campaign is implied through her campaign contributions. She’s received checks from, among many others, Jacksonville Republican Rep. Jason Fischer, Miami-Dade Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz, Miami-Dade Commissioner-elect Juan Carlos Bermudez, Monroe County Commissioner Holly Raschein, West Miami Mayor Eric Diaz-Padron, South Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President Liliam López and former PortMiami Director Juan Kuryla, who since January has worked as senior vice president of port development for Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings.

Neither García nor Cantin Davis faced Primary opponents.

Early voting runs through Nov. 6. Election Day is Nov. 8.

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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