TALLAHASSEE — Four candidates met Tuesday's noon deadline to run for the Florida House seat left open by the resignation of former state Rep. Esteban Bovo.
Bovo, a Hialeah Republican, is seeking to replace recalled Miami-Dade Commissioner Natacha Seijas.
His departure last month prompted Gov. Rick Scott to call a special primary election to replace him on May 24, the same day voters will cast ballots for a new county mayor and commissioner. The general election will take place June 28, set to coincide with any county runoffs.
Vying for Bovo's Hialeah-based seat are three Republicans and a write-in candidate. Had the write-in candidate, Antonio Moreno, not jumped in the race, the GOP primary would have been open to all voters, regardless of political party affiliation.
The three candidates jostling to represent the heavily Republican House District 110 all qualified for office by collecting petition signatures. They are:
• Frank Lago, the chief of staff to Sweetwater Mayor Manny Maroño;
• Rafael "Ralph" Perez, a general contractor and former aide then-state Rep. Marco Rubio; and
• Jose Oliva, a cigar business owner and former Hialeah Housing Authority commissioner.
Lago, 30, has never run for office.
Perez, 35, worked on former state Rep. David Rivera's first Florida House campaign and later ran unsuccessfully in 2008 for Rubio's West Miami House seat. Perez lost in the Republican primary to Rep. Erik Fresen.
Oliva, 38, briefly ran for Hialeah city commission in 2005 for the seat being vacated by now-Mayor Julio Robaina. But he dropped out of the race for personal reasons. He originally submitted paperwork for another House seat, though he said he lives in Bovo's district.
State Rep. Perry Thurston, a Plantation Democrat and incoming House minority leader, tried to recruit at least one person to run in the election: Miami Lakes council member Richard Pulido. Pulido said that, while flattered, he was not interested.
The winner of the race will join a Miami-Dade legislative delegation full of freshman members – but not until after the annual lawmaking session, which ends May 6.
Patricia Mazzei can be reached at email@example.com.