The race between two first-time candidates for the seat representing House District 115 in Miami-Dade County has a winner: Alina García, a long-entrenched GOP operative who made her inaugural run at public office decades into her political career.
With all 80 precincts reporting, all early in-person votes counted and a full tally of mail-in ballots, García had 58.5% of the 69,073 votes cast compared to 41.5% for Democratic Palmetto Bay resident Christie Cantin Davis, who ran with far less money, campaign runway and party support.
García will succeed outgoing Republican Rep. Vance Aloupis in HD 115, which covers Cutler Bay, Palmetto Bay, Pinecrest and the unincorporated neighborhoods of The Falls, Kendall and Westchester.
Neither García nor Cantin Davis faced Primary opponents.
García’s career in politics spans roughly 30 years. 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.
She also received about $156,000 worth of in-kind aid. Most came from the Republican Party of Florida for campaign staff, research, polling, travel, photography, food and beverage, and phone banking expenses.
Cantin Davis, who filed to run in June just weeks from the qualifying deadline, recorded no in-kind aid from the Democratic Party. Her almost exclusively grassroots fundraising totaled roughly $13,000, including $2,000 she loaned herself at the onset of her campaign.
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 ran 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.
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 included 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 vowed to permanently reduce Florida’s state gas tax, give additional support to first responders and uphold the Parental Rights in Education law.
Cantin Davis 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 got an endorsement from her former boss, Rubio, who called her “a consensus-builder and commonsense leader who will never stop fighting for our community.” Republican House Speaker-designate Paul Renner described García as “an experienced public servant who has earned the respect of her community” when he announced his support of her in May.
García also had 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 was implied through campaign contributions. She 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.