State House Dist. 113 candidates sprint to August election
Courtesy of The Miami Herald
July 12, 2012
An insurance adjuster, attorney and entrepreneur, openly gay CPA, and the husband of a Miami Beach commissioner have a month to win enough votes to claim Florida’s House District 113 seat in the open August primary.
Voters in Miami Beach, North Bay Village, parts of downtown Miami and east Little Havana are just a month away from choosing a legislator to represent them in the Florida House.
Four candidates are vying for the House District 113 seat, and all are Democrats. That means that though the general election isn’t until November, the Aug. 14 primary will be open to all voters regardless of party affiliation and will decide who wins the seat.
So candidates will sprint to the finish line.
“It’s almost like playing roulette — you don’t have time to work a campaign the way you would like it,” said Rep. Luis Garcia Jr., a legislator who for years represented most of the newly defined district as a legislator and Miami Beach commissioner and fire chief.
District 113, like all state legislative districts, was redrawn this year. It now includes South Florida’s tourist hub, the Miami Beach Convention Center, the Port of Miami, AmericanAirlines Arena and sections of Little Havana north of Calle
“It’s going to be an interesting race, and don’t underestimate the Republican votes,” said Garcia, who decided to pursue a seat on the Miami-Dade County Commission rather than run again for state office. He said he has not endorsed any of the candidates.
Running for District 113: Waldo Faura, Jr., an insurance adjuster and activist; Adam Kravitz, an attorney and entrepreneur who co-founded the popular Jewish dating website JDate.com; David Richardson, a forensic accountant who hopes to be the state’s first-ever openly gay legislator; and Mark Weithorn, husband of Miami Beach City Commissioner Deede
Faura, Jr. said he is campaigning for state office because of a years-old quest to reform the insurance industry. The 50-year-old runs Centurion Adjusting Solutions and is president of Floridians in Action, which five years ago collected 40,000 petition signatures in an effort to lower insurance rates and strengthen lobbying efforts for a national catastrophe fund.
He holds a homestead exemption on a central Miami-Dade neighborhood south of the Fontainebleau golf course in District 116 — laws allow candidates to live outside their districts until election day —and is the lone candidate to live outside Miami Beach.
District 113 candidate Waldo Faura
But one possible advantage for Faura, Jr., who has run unsuccessfully in past years for state House and Miami City Commission: about two-thirds of the voters in District 113 are Hispanic, and he is the only Hispanic candidate in the race.
“I’m not the big-money candidate,” he said. “I’m just the average guy trying to get there and make a difference.”
Kravitz, on the other hand, said he loaned his campaign $250,000 before the end of June. He lists his net worth at $4.2 million.
Kravitz has never run for public office in the U.S. before — he said he ran for local council in the U.K. — but says he has been active in campaigns and Democratic civic groups from California to Pennsylvania. He also co-founded the non-partisan political website EVoter.com, which allows voters to learn about a candidate and endorsements, donate to a campaign or find their polling place.
Kravitz, 47, emphasized the importance of education, property insurance and economic growth. He says he is well-served to work as a Democratic legislator in a Republican-controlled House of Representatives because of his successful business background.
“That’s where I have the strongest hand,” he said. “I have a business background where I can go up there and talk to business-minded Republicans and hopefully convince them of what we need to grow business in the state.”
Richardson, 55, says he is a successful businessman himself, and listed his net worth at $3.4 million.
The licensed CPA has never before run for political office, but is among the gay community’s hopes to finally land an openly gay legislator in Tallahassee. He is active among gay rights organizations and has received the endorsement and backing of the several gay rights organizations, including SAVE Dade and the national Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, which works to elect openly gay politicians.
Richardson, however, said he wants voters to judge him on his platform. That includes ferreting out waste and corruption, which he said is bolstered by a career as a forensic auditor of government contracts that runs back to the 1980s when he was a senior auditor for the Pentagon.
“I don’t want people to vote for me or not vote for me because I’m gay. I just want people to look at my record,” he said.
Weithorn touts his longstanding ties to Miami Beach, where he has lived since the early 1980s.
He points to years of serving on everything from his homeowners association to education support groups and city committees. Weithorn, 54, is also married to City Commissioner Deede Weithorn, a CPA who is listed as his campaign treasurer.
Mark Weithorn stresses that he is the only candidate in the race to flatly oppose destination casinos, such as the gaming resorts the Genting Group and Las Vegas Sands proposed recently in downtown Miami. Weithorn says casino resorts would steal crucial Miami Beach tourist dollars that contributed more than $20 million toward Miami Beach’s budget in bed taxes alone last year.
A large casino, he said, “would syphon off those dollars and increase the taxes for many of our residents.”