Below are the state Senate candidates from Miami-Dade who first have to win a primary race to be the party’s candidate in the November general election.
If there is no challenger, the race is not listed here.
To see which of these races apply to you, click “review your customized sample ballot” here, then type in your information. Scroll down to “Future elections” and click “sample ballot.”
Former Sen. Gwen Margolis vacated this seat unexpectedly earlier this year, after making derogatory comments about her opponents. She was the longest-serving state senator in Florida at that point and her abrupt departure left the seat wide open. It’s one of the most diverse districts in the county, roughly ⅓ white, ⅓ black, and ⅓ Latino, and it includes some of the richest and poorest parts of the county only miles from each other.
Blemur was 19 years old when he arrived in the US from Haiti. He’s a financial advisor, businessman, and life coach who hasn’t held public office before, although he ran in 2014 in district 36. He emphasizes the exposure he’s had to Miami residents struggling to get by through his work as a financial advisor and his status as a family man, plus his childhood growing up in at-risk area. Blemur got his associate’s degree from Miami-Dade College and later received his bachelor’s in business administration from FIU, after which began working as an accountant.
Burns is a former two-time North Miami mayor who was born on Miami Beach but grew up in North Miami. He stresses his record of getting things done while mayor, such as building five new schools in the city in three years, and handling Hurricane Wilma and Hurricane Katrina. Prior to becoming mayor he was a small business owner. He attended Miami-Dade College and Tallahassee Community College and is currently pursuing his bachelor’s degree in public administration at Barry University. He worked with the US Conference of Mayors on issues of sustainability and economic development.
Daphne Campbell was elected to represent Florida House District 108 in 2010. She’s a Haitian-American registered nurse who grew up in Miami Shores and got her nursing degree in Haiti before moving to the United States with her husband. Campbell has broken rank with the party on some abortion issues, taking a pro-life stance, and has laid low throughout the campaign. Her website includes a list of accomplishments during her time in the House, although multiple fraud investigations into her health care company led the Florida Democratic Party to ask her to resign in 2012.
Festge has been a Miami-Dade County public school teacher for 25 years and although born overseas, has lived in North Miami for most of his life. He currently teaches at Alonzo Mourning Sr. High School and has emphasized his work in schools throughout the campaign, particularly in relation to knowing young people in the community affected by rising gun violence and having done dropout prevention work. He says he was inspired to run after getting the brushoff from Republican Rep. Frank Artiles in Tallahassee. He was also the one to publicize comments by former Sen. Gwen Margolis that eventually led to her resignation, opening up this seat.
Michael Gongora is a lawyer, Miami Beach commissioner, and longtime Miami Beach resident who was raised in Miami-Dade County. He got his B.A. and J.D. from UM and has done pro bono legal work on the Beach and also worked on affordable housing issues. Gongora came in second to Mayor Philip Levine in the Miami Beach mayoral race in 2013. He was the first openly gay elected commissioner in the city and is the former chairman of the city’s sustainability committee, meaning he played a key role in crafting the city’s sustainability plan.
Jason Pizzo is a former assistant state attorney at the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office who has worked substantially on issues of animal cruelty and gun violence. While in office he led a unit investigating cold cases throughout Miami and this campaign, during a time of rising gun violence in Miami, he’s emphasized his law enforcement and crime credentials. In the wide-open race, he’s brought in endorsements from a lot of different corners, including SAVE Dade, SEIU, Mayor Philip Levine, and the City of North Miami Beach.
This Senate race went a little wonky, with Andrew Korge, a newcomer, unexpectedly switching districts to run against incumbent Bullard for the Democratic spot on the November ballot. Then Korge was accused of offering Bullard $25,000 to switch districts. Local Democratic leaders = not happy about all this.
Bullard is the incumbent candidate. He was elected to the Senate in 2012, and before that he served in the state House of Representatives for four years. He’s a teacher at Coral Reef Senior High School and has been recognized for his educational leadership by a number of state organizations. He was awarded the Young Democrats of Miami-Dade Outstanding Leadership Award. Bullard was born in Philadelphia, but moved to Miami as a child. His mother served in the Florida House from 1992-2000 and the Senate from 2002-12, while his father served in the House from 2000-08. Bullard earned his B.A. in history education at Florida A&M University.
Korge also comes from a local Democratic powerhouse family. His father is a well-known fundraiser for major Democratic candidates, including Presidents Obama and Clinton. Korge grew up in Miami, went away to Babson College for his bachelor’s degree, then returned to Florida to attend law school at UF. He works in real estate and has played a key role in a number of civic organizations, including President Obama’s Generation FortyFour.
Ana Rivas Logan
Rivas Logan is on the ballot, but dropped out of the race.
Perez, a Hialeah resident, is on the ballot. She has no public campaign website.