MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Miami-Dade County voters went to the polls for a special election Tuesday, choosing Democrat Annette Taddeo to fill the vacant Senate District 40 seat and Republican Daniel Anthony Perez to the open House District 116 seat.
Unofficial results show Taddeo beat state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz with 50.95 percent of the vote, while Perez beat Democrat Gabriela Mayaudon with 65.81 percent of the vote.
Taddeo is set to succeed former Republican Sen. Frank Artiles, who stepped down from his position in April after he made racial slurs and used vulgar language while speaking to two black colleagues.
The 50-year-old businesswoman has run for Congress twice and was Democrat Charlie Crist's running mate in the 2014 governor's race won by Republican incumbent Rick Scott.
"I think there were a lot of voters that were unhappy," Taddeo said. "They're unhappy of the special interests having a voice, of the bills being drafted by big corporations and not by the people, and somehow Tallahassee has forgotten that we are a government of the people, for the people."
In 2006, Diaz appeared on President Donald Trump's reality show and was one of the first contestants to be "fired" by the billionaire. Democrats used the 37-year-old lawyer's ties to the president to stir up support for Taddeo.
House District 116 seat became empty after Diaz resigned his position in order to run for the Senate.
The Florida Democratic Party released the following statement about Taddeo's victory:
"Congratulations to Annette Taddeo on this major victory for Miami-Dade and our entire state. This is a win for all of Florida. Democrats represent 16 of 40 state Senate seats. Annette will head to Tallahassee ready to fight for higher paying jobs, affordable healthcare and fully funded public schools. Democrats across the state are energized and mobilizing to flip Florida blue. After nearly 20 years of harmful GOP policies, voters are ready for a better deal.
"The Florida Democratic Party joined progressive partners like the FDLCC, unions on a community engagement effort that sets a new standard for our Party. We actively engaged both the Latino and African American communities of SD40 in neighbor-to-neighbor conversations focused on the issues that matter most. This victory is the first of many, as we are poised to claim the governorship, we are prepared to re-elect Senator Bill Nelson, and we are within striking distance of reaching parity in the upper chamber of the state legislature.
"The FDP has made significant strides in building long-term political and grassroots infrastructure that will help Democrats win critical seats at the local, state, and federal level. We are organizing year-round and we will be engaging in neighbor-to-neighbor conversations in every one of our 67 counties to turn Florida blue in 2018 and beyond."
U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Florida, also released the following statement:
"I am so proud of my friend, Senator-elect Annette Taddeo. Annette's victory tonight means South Floridians will have a hardworking mom fighting for them every day in the Florida Senate to expand access to quality, affordable health care, protect our air and water, and improve education for our children," she said. "Her impressive campaign is evidence that voters are eager to accept a bold, progressive policy agenda that puts people first - and a signal that the Florida Democratic Party, under Stephen Bittel's leadership, is ready for the election season ahead. South Floridians have made their voices heard loud and clear and now it's time we keep that momentum going across this nation."