MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – There are new questions being raised about an independent candidate running in the special election to fill a southwestern Miami-Dade County-based seat in the Florida House of Representatives.
Francisco “Frank” De La Paz, who has no party affiliation, is running, along with Republican Mike Redondo and Johnny Farias, to fill a vacant seat in District 118 left by Republican Juan Fernandez-Barquin, who resigned after Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed him to be Miami-Dade Clerk of Courts.
Farias has raised $71,000, while Redondo has almost $130,000 in the bank.
But De La Paz hasn’t campaigned or raised any money. De La Paz’s recent campaign finance report shows his account at $0 and his contributor list empty.
Local 10 News reporter Glenna Milberg pressed the candidate for answers
“I have not collected any (money) on purpose,” De La Paz said.
“On purpose?” Milberg asked.
“Keep the other candidates guessing,” De La Paz said.
Given Florida’s questionable past with shill and planted candidates put in races to fake out voters, it’s raising suspicions about his true reasons for entering the race.
The candidates were planted to dupe voters and dilute the vote, usually in an effort to harm the Democratic candidate.
Farias thinks De La Paz, who was previously a registered Republican, is in the race to harm his candidacy.
“I am not surprised,” Farias said. “It would hurt me more, because it would take the NPA (No Party Affiliation) votes away from the Democrats because normally NPAs vote Democrat.”
De La Paz insists he was not recruited, wasn’t planted and isn’t a spoiler.
“You’re running for an office...and you’re not doing anything to win?” Milberg asked.
“Because it’s not time to do things yet,” De La Paz responded.
One question on his empty list: He’s made no entry to show the source of his candidate filing fee, as is required by law.
“I waited until the last day and I couldn’t figure out the new system,” De La Paz said.
Local 10 News spoke with Redondo Friday afternoon, who said he finds the whole thing odd, but isn’t worried about his voters being confused by any other candidates.
The election is Dec. 5.