HomeLocalMiami Mayor Suarez running for president

Miami Mayor Suarez running for president

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez filed paperwork Wednesday to launch his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, jumping into the crowded race just a day after GOP front-runner Donald Trump appeared in court on federal charges in Suarez’s city.

The 45-year-old mayor, the only Hispanic candidate in the race, declared his candidacy with the Federal Election Commission.

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Suarez, the president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, is the son of Miami’s first Cuban-born mayor. He has gained national attention in recent years for his efforts to lure companies to Miami, with an eye toward turning the city into a crypto hub and the next Silicon Valley.

In Key Biscayne, memories may not be as positive. Suarez was a proponent of placing the Ultra Music Festival near Key Biscayne, which island leaders vehemently opposed. Then-Mayor Mike Davey, who fought against having the concert on Virginia Key in 2019, nevertheless thought Suarez might draw some support from Key Biscayners.

“He’s the closest thing have to having a local run for president,” Davey said.

Suarez would be the first sitting mayor elected president, and is now the third Floridian in the race, joining Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Others in the GOP primary fight are former Vice President Mike Pence, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Despite having a candidate field in the double digits, the race is largely seen as a two-person contest between Trump and DeSantis.

But the other competitors are hoping for an opening, which Trump has provided with his myriad legal vulnerabilities — none more serious than his federal indictment on charges of mishandling sensitive documents and refusing to give them back. He pleaded not guilty Tuesday in Miami federal court to 37 felony counts.

Suarez has said he didn’t support Trump in either the 2016 or 2020 presidential elections, instead writing in the names of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and then-Vice President Pence. In 2018, Suarez publicly condemned Trump after reports came out that he had questioned why the United States would accept more immigrants from Haiti and “shithole countries” in Africa.

But times have changed, with Trump advisers now praising Suarez’s work and helping him promote what he calls “the Miami success story.” Trump’s former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway has even floated Suarez’s name as a possible vice presidential pick.

Suarez, who is married with two young children, is a corporate and real estate attorney who previously served as a city of Miami commissioner. He has also positioned himself as someone who can help the party further connect with Hispanics. In recent months, he has made visits to early GOP voting states as he weighed a possible 2024 campaign.

He is more moderate than DeSantis and Trump, but has threaded the needle carefully on cultural issues that have become popular among GOP politicians.

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Tony Winton is the editor-in-chief of the Key Biscayne Independent and president of Miami Fourth Estate, Inc. He worked previously at The Associated Press for three decades winning multiple Edward R. Murrow awards. He was president of the News Media Guild, a journalism union, for 10 years. Born in Chicago, he is a graduate of Columbia University. His interests are photography and technology, sailing, cooking, and science fiction.

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