MIAMI (CBSMiami) – South Florida voters are going to the polls Tuesday for a special election race to replace Frank Artiles in Senate District 40.
Voters will choose either Republican Jose Felix Diaz or Democrat Annette Taddeo.
Artiles resigned in April after using racial slurs in front of black colleagues at a bar in Tallahassee.
Ever since he stepped down, the fight for his District 40 seat has been highly competitive.
Diaz stepped down from his House seat to pursue this open Senate post.
Taddeo, who has run for Congress twice and lost, was also Charlie Crist’s running mate in his unsuccessful 2014 bid for governor against Rick Scott in 2014.
This is a contentious race because Republicans are seeking to hold on to the Republican seat. Democrats want to flip the seat and narrow Republicans’ current 24-15 advantage in the chamber.
The Southwest Miami-Dade County district is one of a handful of true swing seats in the Senate. Although Democrats hold a slight edge in voter registration, the Southwest Miami-Dade County district is almost evenly split between Republicans, Democrats and voters with no party affiliation.
Christian “He-Man” Schlaerth, who has no party affiliation, is also on the ballot for the District 40 contest.
The second race on the ballot is the House District 116 seat because Florida’s “resign to run” law required state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz to vacate the seat when he chose to run in the District 40 contest.
In the House District 116 race to replace Diaz, Republican Daniel Perez faces Democrat Gabriela Mayaudón.
Perez is an attorney and political newcomer. While Mayaudón is a first-time legislative candidate in Florida, she has political experience as a former Venezuelan legislator.