Florida State Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, lost his seat to Democratic state Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla was a influential south Florida state senator who continually sidelined popular gun rights legislation. His defeat gives hope for campus carry and open carry in the state of Florida.
Miguel Diaz de la Portilla was the chair of 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. He also refused to meet with advocates on an emergency concealed carry bill and was known for sabotaging such bills. Ironically, Diaz de la Portilla was supported by an $85,000 ad campaign paid for by Everytown.
The loss of Diaz de la Portilla’s seat was balanced out in the Senate by Democratic Sen. Dwight Bullard’’s defeat by Republican Rep. Frank Artiles, sustaining the GOP with a 25-15 majority in the chamber. Gun rights advocates say that Diaz de la Portilla got what he had coming to him. Marion Hammer, executive director of the Unified Sportsmen of Florida and a former National Rifle Association president said, “Senator Diaz de la Portilla broke his word. He betrayed gun owners and bragged about it. People know not to trust a man who not only breaks his word but then brags about being deceitful. He engineered his own defeat.”
If the state’s high court hasn’t already stricken an ongoing lawsuit against the prohibition there is high hope that the upcoming session, which begins on March 7, 2017, will be promising for open carry advocates with Diaz de la Portilla out of the mix. Sean Caranna, executive director of Florida Carry said, “Betrayal of gun owners is not the way for a Republican to win re-election. Assuming that the Florida Supreme Court has not ruled yet on the Norman case before the legislative session, we will be back with the same open carry bill that passed the Florida House last year.”
With Diaz de la Portilla out of the way, Bekah Hargrove, a member of the board of directors for Florida Students for Concealed Carry said, “We are in a very advantageous political position this year, especially now that Diaz de la Portilla cannot block our efforts. The people have shown they do not appreciate politicians who lie and advance their own agenda, while ignoring the wishes of their constituents. We have been planning a major effort for this the upcoming session and with this news, our supporters will be even more energized to fight for the rights of Floridians.”