David Perez, State Senate

Miami firefighter can help Democrats capture State Senate majority for first time in 20 years

David Perez

Florida SD-36

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2018 Result: Perez loses by 8-point margin (54% to 46%)

Democrats need to pick up five seats in the State Senate in order to capture majority control of the upper chamber, but Republicans can gain a two-thirds supermajority with the addition of just three seats. Senate District 36 is a prime pickup opportunity for Democrats with incumbent Republican Sen. Rene Garcia term-limited in 2018.

Perez is a firefighter lieutenant who served as a top aide to former Miami-Dade County Mayor Alex Penelas in the early 2000s. He is a first-generation American whose parents were both born in Cuba.

Perez is running against Republican state Rep. Manny Diaz Jr., who led Republican education policy efforts in the state legislature despite his professional ties to a large for-profit charter school company called Academia. Diaz has consistently supported efforts to limit healthcare access; voted to decertify teachers' unions; and opposes any restrictions on firearm access.

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Rating Services

Campaign Finance

Candidate Name

David Perez (D)

Manny Diaz (R)

Campaign Spending

Raised $60,633 (entered race in July 2018)

Raised $666,700

Outside Spending

Polling Results

Election Results

State Senate (New District in 2016)

2016: R+10


2016: D+13.4

2012: D+76.5



Senate District 36 is one of 19 state Senate districts in Florida carried by Hillary Clinton in 2016. The district stretches from the edge of the Everglades and east toward Hialeah, a deeply Hispanic area of Miami-Dade County; 87% of the the residents in SD-36 identify as Hispanic.

All 40 state Senate seats in Florida were up for election in 2016 following a court-ordered redrawing of the legislative boundaries; the League of Women Voters of Florida successfully challenged the initial district maps by arguing that they had been unfairly gerrymandered in favor of Republicans. Florida is one of 26 states with a Republican trifecta in state government (control of both chambers of the state legislature and the Governor's office), which it has held since 1998.

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