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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Republicans troll Miami-Dade legislative candidate for not living in district

14

June

A Democratic newcomer who's challenging an incumbent Republican lawmaker in Hialeah is under attack for not currently living in the district that she's seeking to represent.

In a 30-second online ad, the Republican Party of Florida says "Ivette Gonzalez Petkovich doesn't live in Hialeah, but she thinks she can represent Hialeah."

The ad capitalizes on comments Gonzalez Petkovich made to Politico Florida last month, when the website reported that she and her husband, Alex, live in an area of Doral that's just outside House District 103 -- where she's challenging state Rep. Manny Diaz Jr., R-Hialeah.

But Gonzalez Petkovich, an attorney with her own Coral Gables-based law firm, said Tuesday it's "laughable" for Republicans to paint her as someone unfamiliar with the district since she was born and raised there.

District 103 includes Miramar, Hialeah, Hialeah Gardens, Medley and part of Doral.

>>> Watch the Republicans' ad below. <<<

Last month, Gonzalez Petkovich told Politico Florida: "When you exit out of the back gate of my gated community, you’re in the district. My daughter’s school is in the district. My assistant lives in the district. I go to CVS in the district. I am constantly in the district … so I really don’t see it as a big deal."

"I obviously will live in the district when I win," she had added.

The RPOF ad uses some of those remarks, with a narrator taunting: "Ask Ivette why she and her husband will only move here if elected. Ask her -- if you can find her."

RPOF reserved a website domain in Gonzalez Petkovich's name -- www.ivettegonzalezpetkovich.com -- on which to display the ad. (The candidate's actual campaign website is www.ivetteforflorida.com).

Diaz, the Republican incumbent, said the RPOF ad addresses an issue that "is very pertinent to this campaign."

"The residents of this community continue to look for one of their own to represent them," Diaz said. "You cannot portray or pretend that you are part of this community. The voters here know and they want someone to represent them that lives with and faces the same issues they do."

Gonzalez Petkovich said in a statement to the Herald/Times: "This is my home, where I grew up, where I raise my family, and where I learned my values. For Tallahassee special interests to say otherwise is laughable."

"I care deeply about this community and I want every child in the district to have the opportunity to attend a great public school, get an affordable college education, and find a good-paying job right here at home," she added.

Diaz is seeking a third term representing the Hialeah-based district. He has been a vocal leader on school choice and other education measures, and -- should he be re-elected -- he's in line to be the next chairman of either the House Education Committee or the House education budget committee under incoming speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes.

The District 103 seat is heavily Hispanic and leans Democratic, so the Democrats' "House Victory" political committee has targeted it as one they'd like to win in November. Republicans, clearly, are making it a priority to defend Diaz.

"Shockingly, the party of Trump is resorting to personal attacks to distract from their own problems," House Victory spokesman Anders Croy said in a statement. "Manny Diaz’s record of raising property taxes, voting to allow guns on school campuses, and working to line the pockets of for-profit charter school corporations is out of touch with the values of the people he represents. Unlike Manny Diaz, Ivette Gonzalez will serve as a voice for the people of this community, not just the wealthy special interests."

Heading in to June, Diaz had raised more than five times as much money as his challenger.

Diaz had taken in $243,500 so far this cycle and had $156,600 in cash on hand, as of May 31. By comparison, Gonzalez Petkovich -- who launched her campaign in October -- had raised $46,100 and had $34,600 in the bank.

[Last modified: Tuesday, June 14, 2016 12:48pm]

    

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