Almanac A members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics

Biography

Elected: 2002, 6th term.

Born: September 25, 1961, Ft. Lauderdale

Home: Miami

Education: U. of S. FL

Professional Career: A.A., Miami Mayor Xavier Suarez, 1985-88; Public relations executive.

Ethnicity: Hispanic/Latino

Religion: Catholic

Family: married (Tia) , 1 children

Mario Diaz-Balart, a Republican first elected in 2002, is a pragmatic legislator who has been among the GOP Latinos seeking to nudge their party closer to the political middle on immigration issues. He is an unswerving hard-liner against Cuba’s Castro regime, but joins Democrats in promoting energy independence and restoration of the Everglades.

The Diaz-Balart family history is intertwined with that of Fidel Castro and the rise of communism on the island nation of Cuba. His father, Rafael Lincoln Diaz-Balart, was the majority leader in pre-revolution Cuba’s House of Representatives. His uncle and grandfather also served in the Cuban House. His family seems to have politics in its blood. The Diaz-Balarts fled Cuba in 1959, shortly after Castro took over and after their house was looted and burned while they were vacationing in Paris. His aunt was briefly Castro’s wife and is the mother of his only recognized child. One of Mario’s three older brothers is Lincoln Diaz-Balart, who represented the 21st District from 1992 to 2010. Mario Diaz-Balart, unlike Lincoln, was born in the United States after the family had resettled. Another brother is a television news anchorman for Telemundo and a fourth is an investment banker.

Diaz-Balart dropped out of the University of South Florida at age 24 to work for former Miami Mayor Xavier Suarez, a Republican. In 1988, he was elected to the Florida House; four years later, at age 31, he became the youngest person ever elected to the state Senate. Diaz-Balart was named chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, where he was a budget hawk. His 1995 call for state agencies to cut spending by 25% earned him the nickname “The Slasher”—a moniker he wore with pride. The eight-year term limit forced him from the state Senate in 2000, so he again ran for the Florida House and was elected.

No ordinary freshman, Diaz-Balart requested and received the chairmanship of the congressional redistricting committee. The resulting plan included a western Miami-Dade district tailored for Diaz-Balart. He coasted to victory over Democratic state Rep. Annie Betancourt, a former social worker and the widow of a Bay of Pigs veteran. Her campaign was underfinanced, and she remained largely unknown. With support from teachers and other unions, Diaz-Balart won 65%-35%.

In the House, his voting record has generally been conservative on economic and foreign policy and more moderate on cultural issues. Republican leaders, eager to diversify their caucus, made him an assistant whip and gave him a coveted seat on the Appropriations Committee. He repeatedly has opposed oil drilling off Florida’s coast in the Gulf of Mexico and used his Appropriations seat to secure Everglades funding. He was the lead sponsor of a bipartisan bill in June 2011 to provide financial incentives for states to adopt and enforce national building codes for new homes and offices.

Diaz-Balart organized the Congressional Hispanic Conference, a Republican alternative to the Democrats’ Congressional Hispanic Caucus. With his brother and GOP Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, also of South Florida, he supported a bill to allow children of illegal immigrants to qualify for college. After Republican Mitt Romney overwhelmingly lost the Hispanic vote to President Barack Obama in 2012, Diaz-Balart was among those vocally touting a House-passed bill to provide visas for foreign graduates of U.S. universities with advanced math and science degrees, as an initial step toward re-establishing GOP credibility among that voting bloc. But he added that it was no substitute for a broader bill. Republicans “cannot pretend there are not millions of people in an underground society,” he told the Orlando Sentinel. “We can no longer pretend that it’s not affecting our ability to be competitive.” He led efforts in 2011 against the Obama administration’s push to loosen travel to Cuba, saying that tourist travel was an important revenue source for Castro’s government. His amendment became the last major sticking point in an omnibus spending bill before the amendment was finally dropped in December.

In 2006, Diaz-Balart was reelected 58%-42%. Two years later, he faced a serious challenge from Joe Garcia, the Miami-Dade County Democratic chairman and former executive director of the Cuban American National Foundation. Garcia opposed the restrictions on travel and remittances to Cuba and criticized the incumbent for focusing on Cuba rather than on gas prices and the crisis in housing foreclosures. Diaz-Balart won by a narrow 53%-47%. (Six years later, Garcia beat embattled Republican Rep. David Rivera in the 26th District.)

After his close call, Diaz-Balart announced he would seek his brother Lincoln’s seat in the more Republican 25th District when Lincoln retired from the House as he planned to do in 2010. Diaz-Balart ended up running unopposed. Then, redistricting made the seat even more Republican, and in 2012, he won with more than three-quarters of the vote. That didn’t stop him, though, from joining Democratic Florida Rep. Corrine Brown in an unsuccessful challenge to the state’s Fair Districts reforms; they claimed the anti-gerrymanding law unfairly hurt minority voters.

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-4211

(202) 225-8576

CHOB- Cannon House Office Building Room 440
Washington, DC 20515-0925

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-4211

(202) 225-8576

CHOB- Cannon House Office Building Room 440
Washington, DC 20515-0925

DISTRICT OFFICE

(305) 470-8555

(305) 470-8575

8669 NW 36th Street Suite 100
Doral, FL 33166-6640

DISTRICT OFFICE

(305) 470-8555

(305) 470-8575

8669 NW 36th Street Suite 100
Doral, FL 33166-6640

DISTRICT OFFICE

(239) 348-1620

(239) 348-3569

4715 Golden Gates Parkway Suite 1
Naples, FL 34116-6901

DISTRICT OFFICE

(239) 348-1620

(239) 348-3569

4715 Golden Gates Parkway Suite 1
Naples, FL 34116-6901

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

(305) 206-0638

8724 SW 72nd Street Unit 420
Miami, FL 33173-3512

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

8724 SW 72nd Street Unit 420
Miami, FL 33173-3512

Staff

Sort by: Interest Name Title

Abortion

Christina McGarry
Legislative Assistant

Acquisitions

Miguel Mendoza
Legislative Director

Aerospace

Chris Sweet
Senior Legislative Assistant

Agriculture

Miguel Mendoza
Legislative Director

Appropriations

Miguel Mendoza
Legislative Director

Arts

Chris Sweet
Senior Legislative Assistant

Commerce

Chris Sweet
Senior Legislative Assistant

Congress

Katrina Valdes
Communications Director

Disability

Miguel Mendoza
Legislative Director

Education

Chris Sweet
Senior Legislative Assistant

Foreign

Autumn Morley
Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor

Chris Sweet
Senior Legislative Assistant

Govt Ops

Chris Sweet
Senior Legislative Assistant

Gun Issues

Christina McGarry
Legislative Assistant

Health

Cesar Gonzalez
Chief of Staff

Christina McGarry
Legislative Assistant

Homeland Security

Miguel Mendoza
Legislative Director

Chris Sweet
Senior Legislative Assistant

Housing

Miguel Mendoza
Legislative Director

Human Rights

Autumn Morley
Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor

Christina McGarry
Legislative Assistant

Chris Sweet
Senior Legislative Assistant

Immigration

Cesar Gonzalez
Chief of Staff

Insurance

Miguel Mendoza
Legislative Director

Intelligence

Miguel Mendoza
Legislative Director

Internet

Chris Sweet
Senior Legislative Assistant

Judiciary

Christina McGarry
Legislative Assistant

Labor

Cesar Gonzalez
Chief of Staff

Military

Miguel Mendoza
Legislative Director

Minorities

Miguel Mendoza
Legislative Director

Privacy

Chris Sweet
Senior Legislative Assistant

Social Security

Chris Sweet
Senior Legislative Assistant

Telecommunications

Chris Sweet
Senior Legislative Assistant

Trade

Miguel Mendoza
Legislative Director

Transportation

Miguel Mendoza
Legislative Director

Veterans

Christina McGarry
Legislative Assistant

Election Results

2012 GENERAL
Mario Diaz-Balart
Votes: 151,466
Percent: 75.65%
Stanley Blumenthal
Votes: 31,664
Percent: 15.81%
VoteForEddie.com
Votes: 17,099
Percent: 8.54%
2012 PRIMARY
Mario Diaz-Balart
Unopposed
2010 GENERAL
Mario Diaz-Balart
Unopposed
2010 PRIMARY
Mario Diaz-Balart
Unopposed
2008 GENERAL
Mario Diaz-Balart
Votes: 130,891
Percent: 53.05%
Joe Garcia
Votes: 115,820
Percent: 46.95%
2008 PRIMARY
Mario Diaz-Balart
Unopposed
Prior Winning Percentages
2010 (unopposed), 2008 (53%), 2006 (58%), 2004 (100%), 2002 (65%)

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