Capital Clicks

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez suspends presidential campaign

By: - August 29, 2023 2:02 pm

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez shakes hands with a crowd member following his "fair-side chat" with Gov. Kim Reynolds at the Iowa State Fair Aug. 11, 2023. Suarez announced Tuesday he is suspending his campaign for president. (Photo by Robin Opsahl/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

The last Republican to enter the 2024 race for president, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, became the first to step down from the contest Tuesday when he announced that he was suspending his struggling presidential campaign.

His announcement comes less than a week after he failed to qualify for the first Republican presidential debate, a fatal wound to what was always an extremely uphill battle for the nomination.

“Running for President of the United States has been one of the greatest honors of my life,” Suarez said on X, formerly known as Twitter. “This country has given so much to my family and me. The prospect of giving back at the highest levels of public service is a motivator if not a calling. Throughout this process, I have met so many freedom-loving Americans who care deeply about our nation, her people, and its future. It was a privilege to come so close to appearing on stage with the other candidates at last week’s first debate.”

Suarez was part of a rare trifecta of three Florida Republicans running for the party’s presidential nomination. The two others —  former President Donald J. Trump and Gov. Ron DeSantis — remain in most polls and they are the top two ranking candidates in the GOP presidential race, though Trump has a huge lead in national and most state polls.

Suarez did not make it on debate stage in Milwaukee last week, failing to qualify because he did not meet part of the criteria set forth by the Republican National Committee of getting to at least 1% in three-high quality national polls or a mix of national and early-state polls.

He had obtained more than 40,000 donors, another benchmark that every candidate had to make to get into the debate (two other GOP candidates who failed to qualify for the debate, Perry Johnson and Larry Elder, announced last week that they would be suing the Republican National Committee for not allowing them to participate in the event).

Suarez said earlier in the month at the Iowa State Fair that getting on the stage for the first debate was “critical” to his campaign, and that there was a chance he would step down if he did not qualify for the two-hour forum that was viewed by nearly 13 million people.

A Cuban-American, the 45-year-old Suarez was the only Hispanic candidate running for the GOP nomination in this cycle. The son of Xavier Suarez, a former mayor of Miami, Suarez was initially elected as mayor of Miami in 2017 and reelected in 2021, getting nearly 79 percent of the vote.

But he was already involved in a controversy before his announcement in June that he was running, as he had come under scrutiny regarding allegations reported in the Miami Herald that he was paid thousands of dollars for his work as a consultant for a developer building a $70 million development in the Coconut Grove area of Miami.

That has spurred an investigation by the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust, and the company that paid him is now under investigation by the FBI.

In his statement announcing that he was suspending his campaign, Suarez said that he would continue to “amplify the voices of the Hispanic community.”

“The Left has taken Hispanics for granted for far too long, and it is no surprise that so many are finding a home in America’s conservative movement,” he said. “Our party must continue doing more to include and attract this vibrant community that believes in our country’s foundational values: faith, family, hard work and freedom. Younger voters, Independents, urban voters and suburban women — all of whom I’ve carried in previous elections – among others, should find a comfortable home in the GOP and its policies.”

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) weighed in on Suarez’ departure from the race.

“One fewer Republican who wants to ban abortions nationwide,” said DNC spokesperson Ammar Moussa. “Too bad the rest of the field is just as extreme. Good riddance.”

Suarez is not backing any other candidate in the race. Not yet anyhow.

“I look forward to keeping in touch with the other Republican presidential candidates and doing what I can to make sure our party puts forward a strong nominee who can inspire and unify the country, renew Americans’ trust in our institutions and in each other, and win.”

This story was originally published by Florida Phoenix, which is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Florida Phoenix maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Diane Rado for questions: [email protected]. Follow Florida Phoenix on Facebook and Twitter.

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Mitch Perry
Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry is a reporter for Florida Phoenix. He has covered politics and government in Florida for more than two decades. Most recently he is the former politics reporter for Bay News 9. He has also worked at Florida Politics, Creative Loafing and WMNF Radio in Tampa. He was also part of the original staff when the Florida Phoenix was created in 2018.