Seven Miami-Dade lawmakers emphasized their support Monday for Sen. Alex Villalobos, the Miami Republican who faces a re-election challenge from within his party and whose bid for Senate president in 2008 is endangered by a split among GOP senators.
It looks like Villalobos will need all the help he can get, too, because Gov. Jeb Bush appears ready to repay Villalobos for helping to deny him a crucial school voucher bill.
Villalobos lost his Senate majority leader's post in the last week of the regular session after bolting from most fellow Senate Republicans and opposing a bill to keep vouchers in the state Constitution. Last week the Florida Chamber of Commerce withdrew its support of Villalobos' re-election, and Villalobos faces a Sept. 5 primary challenge from Miami-Dade School Board member Frank Bolanos.
Asked whether he's backing Bolanos, Gov. Jeb Bush said Monday: "No. Not yet. I might ... I might get involved in the race."
The seven Villalobos loyalists are Sen. Rudy Garcia, R-Hialeah, and Reps. Gus Barreiro, Rene Garcia, Marcelo Llorente, J.C. Planas, Julio Robaina and Juan Zapata. In a statement, Garcia called Villalobos a "true Republican ... loyal to his district and our community first and foremost."