Miami Mayor Francis Suarez is joining the crowded Republican field for president, becoming the first Hispanic in the race who also contends he can broaden the appeal for Republicans nationally — especially to Hispanics.

Suarez, 45, filed official federal paperwork on Wednesday, just one day after Donald Trump’s arraignment in downtown Miami on charges that the former president hoarded classified documents at his estate in Palm Beach County.

Suarez joins Trump and Gov. Ron DeSantis as a candidate from Florida, a one-time battleground state that has become more and more reliably Republican. Miami voters have twice elected Suarez, who is the son of the city’s first Cuban-born mayor, in one of the most important areas politically in the nation’s third-largest state

Suarez serves as mayor of the city of Miami, a municipality of about 450,000 people that’s within Miami-Dade County, a region of more than 2.5 million people whose mayor is Daniella Levine Cava.

Suarez has touted the city’s low crime rate and economic successes, but he has lately been dogged by news reports about a developer who hired him to allegedly secure permits for a stalled real estate project at the same time the developer was trying to win approval for a city project.

Another looming problem for Suarez is whether he can raise enough money from enough supporters to qualify for Republican debates scheduled for later this summer. Suarez also could be hampered by his acknowledgement that he did not vote for Trump in either the 2016 or 2020 election although he has been more complimentary of Trump lately.

Suarez has also acknowledged he did not vote for DeSantis in 2018 and tangled with him at one point over Covid-19 restrictions during the pandemic. He did say recently he voted for DeSantis in 2022.

But he told POLITICO in May that he was considering a run for president “because I think I can grow the tent — not for an election, but for a generation. I think it matters who is the communicator of ideas and how they communicate those ideas. You can look at my history and know that I’m someone who’s a unifier. You can look at my history and see that I’m someone who appreciates the nuances in a variety of different Hispanic cultures.”

Last month Kellyanne Conway told POLITICO reporters in D.C.: “I’ve not been shy about telling President Trump that Suarez should be on the short, short list for VP should Trump be the nominee.”

Suarez has argued that Democrats have been “reckless’ in their branding and “messaging” with Hispanics. He argued that Republicans in general have a “tremendous opening” in part because Trump supported rolling back policies the Obama administration had put in place for Cuba.

Suarez already has a super PAC in place to help him. SOS America on Wednesday said it was spending at least $100,000 on digital ads in New Hampshire, Iowa and Nevada. The super PAC also hit President Joe Biden over law-and-order issues while noting the crime rates in Miami have dropped.

“America needs conservative Mayor Francis Suarez for President,” said SOS America PAC spokesperson Chapin Fay in a statement. “As our nation faces anti-police and pro-crime Democrat leadership in cities across the nation like Baltimore, Portland and New York City, the achievements of first-generation American Mayor Suarez underscore the need for immediate nationwide adoption of his approach.”

Suarez is scheduled to speak at the Reagan Library in California on Thursday night.

Democrats, meanwhile, quickly lashed out at Suarez by trying to link him to Trump and questioning his ethics.

“Francis Suarez is yet another contender in the race for the MAGA base who has supported key pieces of Donald Trump’s agenda,” said Democratic National Committee chair Jaime Harrison in a statement. “As mayor of Miami, Suarez has repeatedly used his position to benefit himself, prioritizing pay raises for himself, accepting lavish gifts, and taking shady payments — all while ignoring the biggest challenges facing the people he was elected to serve.”

Other Cuban-Americans who ran for president include Republican Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas.

Amalia Daché, an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, studies the complexities of the role race plays in Cuban culture. Daché, who was born in Havana, said that while she’s a Democrat, she can’t help but watch a Suarez candidacy because of “a little sense of pride.”

Daché said there’s something “different” in Suarez from Rubio and Cruz.

“When I see him, I don’t see Marco Rubio and I don’t see Ted Cruz,” she said. “I see a brown man … It’s a little different for me, seeing him and understanding what he represents and possibly what this would mean for his ancestors.”

Source: https://www.politico.com/news/2023/06/14/francis-suarez-president-mayor-miami-00102030

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