FL House District 118 candidate Daniel Sotelo is receiving attacks from incumbent opponent Juan Fernandez-Barquin and from Tallahasse’s House Republican Campaign Committee in the run up to Tuesday's primary election.
In an interview with The Miami Independent via telephone, Sotelo pointed towards a website run by a group titled the Concerned Conservatives of Kendall which labels Sotelo as a “liberal,” accuses him of supporting socialist policies and much more. Sotelo also claims this group has been pushing attack Ads on Facebook and Instagram.
The Miami Independent was able to independently verify that Fernandez-Barquin’s political organization Floridians United has provided funding to the Concerned Conservatives of Kendall amounting to $25,000. The first payment of $10,000 was made on July 12 and the second payment of $15,000 was made on August 13 of this year.
Sotelo pointed toward the endorsements his opponent has received as evidence that Fernandez-Barquin is not a true Republican.
Sotelo labeled his opponent as “the only quote republican that was endorsed by the teachers union.”
“I’m being labeled as a liberal but he’s the one being endorsed by these liberal organizations,” Sotelo continued.
Fernandez-Barquin has received an endorsement from the editorial board of the Miami Herald under an piece titled, "Herald recommends: In the Florida House District 118 Republican primary, the less far right, the better."
Besides receiving endorsements, Sotelo has also accused Fernandez-Barquin of taking campaign contributions from left-leaning political groups, insurance companies, special interest groups and others including Disney.
Here is a list of Fernandez-Barquin's contributions. Notable payments have been highlighted.
There is a third candidate in the race, Francisco Rodriguez, a systems-analyst for the Miami-Dade public school system. Rodriguez worked as a volunteer on Governor DeSantis' 2018 gubernatorial campaign.
With redistricting this year, all three candidates are running to represent an area "which covers a narrow strip of Miami-Dade County west of the Florida Turnpike that includes portions of the unincorporated Kendall, Perrine, Sunset and Westchester neighborhoods."
Representing House District 119 since 2018, Fernandez-Barquin is running for reelection in FL-118 due to the border change this year. Sotelo unsuccessfully ran against Fernandez-Barquin in 2018 as an independent.
Republican Representative Anthony Rodriguez currently represents district 118 but will relinquish the seat in November for a spot on the Miami-Dade Commission.
Sotelo was born in Havana, Cuba and immigrated to the US at age 10. Raised in West Kendall, Sotelo enlisted in the Air Force when he turned 18. Sotelo would later become a Military Police officer.
Achieving a bachelors degree in criminal science and a masters in systems management, Sotelo led a career in working for the Department of Defense (DOD) before building his own real estate business.
A point of critique from his opponent, Sotelo explained his former registration as a Democrat and a long period of political inactivity.
Sotelo asserted that when he was encouraged to register to vote one day during high school he was politically ambivalent and registered as a Democrat. Throughout his time in the military he also failed to vote, proclaiming he was trying to stay out of politics.
However, when sent to the city of Philadelphia while working for DOD, Sotelo became politically motivated following his frustration with the Democrat policies governing the Pennsylvania city.
"Where are my taxes going?" Sotelo said. “Democrats are overspending our money, they’re not doing anything," he continued.
The Cuban-American had some words to say about his own party as well. There are "elements of the
Republican party that basically go with the Democrats. We need real conservatives, we need real policies."
"We need real conservatives, we need real policies."Daniel Sotelo
After his time in Philadelphia, Sotelo said he realized that "politics affects me."
Although Sotelo has run for previous positions, he began campaigning for the HD118 in June of 2021. Declaring that he receives significant support from Cuban seniors in his district, Sotelo states that Cuban-Americans who lived through Fidel Castro coming to power are worried about the direction the US is moving culturally and economically.
Sotelo echos their concerns, stating "I'm scared for my kids, my grandkids, I want them to have a country, a future."
"I'm scared for my kids, my grandkids, I want them to have a country, a future."Daniel Sotelo