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Former Key Biscayne mayor launches bid as a Democrat for Salazar’s U.S. House seat

Former Key Biscayne Mayor Mike Davey on Thursday launched a bid for the Democratic nomination to take on Republican U.S. Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar in a race that Democrats see as a key opportunity to gain ground in Florida’s GOP-dominated congressional delegation.

Davey’s announcement sets him up for a primary matchup against Miami-Dade School Board member Lucia Baez-Geller, who jumped into the race in November. Baez-Geller has already won the support of several high-profile Miami-Dade Democrats, including former state Sen. Annette Taddeo, who unsuccessfully challenged Salazar in 2022, and former U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, who’s currently running to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Rick Scott.

In an interview with the Miami Herald ahead of his campaign announcement, Davey pointed to his experience on the Key Biscayne Village Council and as mayor to argue that he has the proven governing ability to effectively serve in Congress.

“I spent 12 years as a public servant, including as mayor, working to improve the lives of the people I was elected to serve,” Davey told the Herald. “I have the experience. That’s my lane.”

Florida’s 27th congressional district, which includes Downtown Miami, Little Havana and Kendall, stands as one of the most-Hispanic districts in Florida. It’s also one of just two U.S. House seats that Democrats are targeting in Florida in this year’s elections following a brutal series of losses in 2022.

Salazar, a former news anchor, first won her House seat in 2020 after prevailing in a rematch against former U.S. Rep. Donna Shalala. She won a second term in Congress in 2022, defeating Taddeo.

Davey tore into Salazar on Wednesday, saying that she is at “the center of the problem” in Washington. He slammed her for voting against high-profile federal legislation – including some that she later touted as successes – like a bipartisan infrastructure measure and the CHIPS and Science Act to boost manufacturing of semiconductors in the U.S.

“She hasn’t done anything,” Davey said. “She’s voted against every bill: infrastructure, CHIPS, the Inflation Reduction Act. She’s up there performing political theater.”

A lawyer by trade, Davey was first elected to the Key Biscayne Village Council in 2006 before becoming mayor in 2018. He left office in 2022 after serving two terms in the office. Term limits prohibit mayors from staying in office for more than two consecutive terms.

While Key Biscayne’s mayor and village council members officially occupy nonpartisan offices, Davey was registered to vote as a Republican for years, even running unsuccessfully for the GOP nomination to represent Florida’s 112th house district in 2016. He said he registered as an independent in 2017 before becoming a Democrat in 2018.

He told the Herald on Wednesday that he has “always been focused on solutions and not politics,” and downplayed his past as a registered Republican, saying that he supported former President Barack Obama in the 2008 and 2012 elections, as well as Hillary Clinton’s 2016 White House campaign.

It was former President Donald Trump’s election in 2016 that ultimately pushed him away from the Republican Party, he said.

“Over the years, I’ve seen the blatant power grabs by Florida Republicans and pure partisanship by Republicans in Washington, and South Florida deserves better,” he said. “That’s why now I’m a proud Democrat.”