SAVE, a leading South Florida LGBT organization, is raising eyebrows with its selection of a straight candidate in the race for an open Senate seat in Florida’s legislature.
Jason Pizzo, a former prosecutor, received the endorsement of SAVE’s Action Pac. Pizzo is campaigning to represent district 38 – a Miami-Dade County district -- in the Florida Senate.
“Jason Pizzo is the strongest candidate,” said Tony Lima, SAVE Executive Director. “He came in with the most comprehensive plan needed to appeal to all the ethnicities in this district. He’s also done very well fundraising and he’s committed and proud to serve.”
In endorsing Pizzo, SAVE passed on two gay candidates – former Miami Beach Vice Mayor Michael Gongora and former North Miami Mayor Kevin Burns.
“We are not in the business of endorsing someone just because they are gay,” Lima told SFGN in a telephone call.
Burns, citing voting records, said Pizzo has not voted since 2008. In an interview with the Miami Herald, Pizzo explained his gaps in voting had to do with a case he worked while at the state attorney’s office which resulted in threats against his family.
Pizzo told the Herald he was forced to relocate his family to New Jersey one day before the 2012 general election.
“It was the most traumatic event of my life,” Pizzo told the Herald.
Pizzo is married with two children. He is campaigning on his experience fighting bad guys who have exploited the elderly, abused animals and committed violent crimes.
“He has what it takes to win,” Lima said. “And he’s the most viable candidate.”
On his Facebook page, Pizzo posted that he was grateful to receive SAVE’s backing.
“I am honored to have the support of this important organization, doing great work defending human rights in our community,” Pizzo said.
In a crowded field of six Democrats, the district 38 seat, Lima said, must stay in the progressive column. Of the six competing, only sitting representative Daphne Campbell has served before in Tallahassee.
Campbell is known as a social conservative and outspoken critic of pro-choice women’s health care options.
“We have to make sure Daphne Campbell does not win,” Lima said.
Gongora, who serves as a legal advisor for Unity Coalition, a Hispanic LGBT organization, has raised the most money through the Aug. 5 reporting period.
Gongora held a $102,012 to $61,191 edge over Campbell with Pizzo raising $41,102. Early voting is underway with the primary election slated for Aug. 30.