A powerful South Florida state senator who repeatedly sidelined popular gun rights legislation is now benefiting from an ad campaign paid for by Everytown.
Florida State Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, chairs the Senate Criminal Justice Committee and in 2015 refused to hold hearings on a bill to allow legal concealed carry on public colleges and universities. Diaz de la Portilla was also a fly in the ointment when it came to derailing an emergency concealed carry bill the year before and in 2016 was key in killing bills on campus carry and open carry, refusing to even meet with advocates.
Now, locked in a race with State Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez, D-Miami, who is forgoing a re-election bid in an effort to grab Diaz de la Portilla’s seat, the Republican senator is getting an influx of support from gun control groups financed by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
“Senator Diaz de la Portilla has worked to promote public safety for the past two years,” reads a statement issued by Everytown on Tuesday, announcing an $85,000 ad campaign to support their man in Tallahassee.
“Using his position as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he declined to hear a bill that would have allowed guns on Florida’s many college campuses and another that would have allowed people to openly carry handguns in public,” says the statement. “Prior to reaching these decisions, Senator Diaz de la Portilla listened closely to concerned stakeholders – like campus security, professors and university presidents – from around the state. After careful consideration, he agreed that guns on campus would only heighten the risks already found in colleges and universities, and stopped this dangerous proposal two years in a row.”
The National Rifle Association has graded both Diaz de la Portilla and his opponent with “F” ratings in the upcoming election. The lowest rating issued by the group, an F is reserved for a “True enemy of gun owners’ rights. A consistent anti-gun candidate who always opposes gun owners’ rights and/or actively leads anti-gun legislative efforts, or sponsors anti-gun legislation.”
Marion Hammer, executive director of the Unified Sportsmen of Florida and a former National Rifle Association president, told Guns.com the incumbent state senator is dishonest.
“Using a position of power to subvert a constitutional right is one thing, bragging about it for personal political gain is quite another,” said Hammer. “How can anyone trust him?”
Should Diaz de la Portilla lose to Rodriguez, the new senator would likely not be installed over the powerful committee, though he does bring with him a record of voting with the minority against both campus and open carry bills in the last session of the Florida House.
“Jose Javier Rodriguez could not stop any of these bad gun bills from clearing the House, why would anyone think he would be able to do anything in the Senate?” said Diaz de la Portilla, as reported by The Orlando Sun-Sentinel. “I’m looking forward to his retirement on Nov. 8, 2016.”
Republicans currently enjoy a commanding 26-14 majority in the Senate and will most likely maintain their hold on the upper chamber of the legislature regardless of the outcome of the race between the Miami-area lawmakers.