Some people simply cannot stop running for office even when wildly unsuccessful. Annette Taddeo, who has proven to be a polarizing figure in Miami-Dade County Democratic politics has stepped forward and announced a second run for Congress (This time in FL-26 instead of the old FL-18) and a fourth attempt at winning public office in the last eight years. This time the stakes couldn’t be higher as Taddeo has opted to challenge first-term GOP Congressman Carlos Curbelo in a seat that has flipped back and forth between the parties in each of the last three election cycles. Joe Garcia who served one term in Congress was the Democratic nominee in this district and its predecessor each of the last four election cycles, losing three of those races.
On paper, Taddeo ticks all the right boxes for Democrats – a female foreign born Latina that is at least in theory progressive and has a real American story of upward advancement. But Taddeo’s story has not translated to electoral success in the past. Coming off an election cycle where she was shockingly placed on the statewide ticket alongside Charlie Crist, Taddeo’s star appeared to wane in the later stages of the fall campaign. By Election Day, the word “dud” was being used openly and actively to describe Crist’s choice of her. For Taddeo it was her third losing race in four election cycles. But Crist himself appears to hold no ill will as Taddeo’s email announcement on Monday was actually sent from Crist.
Taddeo is credited by some in her short tenure as Miami-Dade Democratic Party Chairwoman (December 2012 to August 2014) as being responsible for reviving the local party, while others have claimed she divided it and created administrative problems that linger today. Critics point to her decision to field a full slate of underfunded State House candidates which ultimately worked to drive Republican turnout for the sitting incumbents and cut the margins the Crist-Taddeo ticket carried out of Dade County. Others who question Taddeo’s leadership point to the disagreements within the Miami-Dade Party and rifts between leading activists that were blown wide open during Taddeo’s tenure. Still others point to her unwillingness to work with some elected officials closely and her use of the party to further the political career of a habitual candidate.
One thing is for certain – Curbelo will sit at the top of any Democratic Party target list for the 2016 cycle. Taddeo’s candidacy in a marginal district during a Presidential year will prove to be her big opportunity. In the last 36 hours some complaints that Taddeo is not Cuban-American, thus not the best candidate for the district have surfaced, but it should be noted Colombian-Americans are the district’s second largest ethnic group – Taddeo was born in Colombia.
Ultimately, Taddeo will be a feisty and aggressive campaigner. Whether she is the best candidate in this hotly contest seat is highly questionable, but by jumping into this race so early and beginning to amass a team around her, she should have a shot. Well-connected and supported within the Democratic establishment statewide, she will without a doubt get lots of party love and attention.