Michael Gongora is stepping up a level. Gongora, an attorney and former Miami Beach Commissioner, announced last week he is campaigning for a seat in the Florida Senate.
SFGN spoke with Gongora by telephone from his law offices in Miami Beach on Friday. He sounded confident for the challenge that awaits.
“I have the experience and reputation of responsibility to represent the district in Tallahassee,” Gongora said. Gongora paid the $1,781.82 qualifying fee to the Department of State in order to appear on August’s primary ballot. He is running against six other Democrats for the party’s nomination.
In a new release, Gongora states he will “work even harder and be more effective than as a private citizen or community leader.” Gongora, a gay man, was a member of SFGN’s first Out 50 issue in 2014 – a year after finishing a strong second to Philip Levine in the Miami Beach mayoral election.
“Michael Gongora for many years has been a champion for all of South Florida’s diverse communities,” said Jonathan Welsh, a Miami Beach resident and head of Marketing and Development at Care Resource. “He embraces diversity, works hard and has paid his dues. If one just looks at his record, the proof is in the pudding.”
Gongora, 45, whose grandfather emigrated from Cuba, serves as a legal advisor for Unity Coalition, a Hispanic LGBT non-profit. Press releases announcing his campaign were e-mailed in English and Spanish.
“He’s a well-rounded person,” said Unity Coalition President Herb Sosa. “Our community and the people of this district will be well served by Michael in Tallahassee.”
Senate district 38, a Miami-Dade district, became a competitive scramble when Senator Gwen Margolis, 81, Florida’s longest serving sitting legislator, decided to not seek re-election.
Joining Gongora in the field of seven Democrats for the open senate seat is current Florida Representative Daphne Campbell, 59, a social conservative who has been dogged in the past over corruption charges and health care fraud.
“She’s a horrible person,” said Tim Ross, a member of the Dolphin Democrats, an LGBT club in Broward County. “She’s homophobic, anti-choice and corrupt.”
Campbell, Ross said, co-sponsored last year’s infamous “bathroom bill” which prevented transgender people from using the restroom of their choice.
A registered nurse and native of Haiti, Campbell describes herself as a “Christian Democrat.” Also running for the seat are former North Miami Beach Mayor Kevin Burns, teacher Don Feste, businessman Anis Blemur, Doral resident Bruce Kaplan and former prosecutor Jason Pizzo.