State Sen. Ileana Garcia insists her election untainted despite evidence of shill candidates

Republican Ileana Garcia defeated Jose Javier Rodriguez by just 34 votes in District 37.

DORAL, Fla. – Newly minted Republican state Sen. Ileana Garcia is unloading on Twitter, saying she is being “vilified by insinuations” as evidence mounts that a little-known, late-entry, no-party candidate was planted to disrupt votes for her incumbent Democrat opponent Jose Javier Rodriguez.

Her election win was by just 34 votes.

Garcia has not returned calls, but her press releases and tweets take shots at the media and the predecessor she defeated.

The founder of Latinas for Trump insists her win is valid — and untainted — even as Local 10 reporting found the people and connections behind a dark money campaign apparently staged to pull Democratic votes.

Garcia asks an interesting question: Where was the outrage four years ago when Rodriguez won despite a little known, no-party candidate who pulled more than 5% of the vote?

So we called that candidate, Mercedes Christian, who is 95, struggles with English and did not give permission to record our call with her.

Christian, who runs a peace foundation, insisted her candidacy was serious, though she didn’t campaign nor fundraise, nor want publicity.

Then she told us something we didn’t ask — that she had been telling her supporters to vote for the Republican in the race, her friend Miguel Díaz de la Portilla, who in the end did not win.


Following the money behind two apparent shill candidates in state Senate races

Evidence suggests several state Senate candidates were plants funded by dark money

Miami-Dade State Senate candidate turns out to be shill funded by dark money that lives two counties away

About the Author:

Glenna Milberg joined Local 10 News in September 1999 to report on South Florida's top stories and community issues. She also serves as co-host on Local 10's public affairs broadcast, "This Week in South Florida."