Michael Etienne is trying to make some points by challenging U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson in the Democratic primary in District 24, which straddles Broward and Miami-Dade counties. But he doesn't expect to win.
The Democrat-dominated district — which includes Miramar, West Park, Pembroke Pines and Liberty City — was formerly represented by Kendrick Meek and his mother Carrie Meek.
Etienne, North Miami's elected city clerk, is not accepting campaign donations or seeking endorsements. His campaign is a protest against Wilson, claiming she has not forcefully promoted liberal causes, notably opposition to surveillance by intelligence agencies and free-trade treaties with other countries.
"She is a no-show with these free-trade agreements," Etienne said, citing her absence in 2011 when the U.S. House voted to ratify pacts with Korea, Panama and Colombia. "It gives a green light to companies to send jobs oversees wherever we have these free-trade agreements."
Wilson, a stalwart liberal who mostly backs President Barack Obama's agenda, said at the time she could not vote the day the House considered these treaties because of minor surgery. But she issued a statement opposing the trade deals: "Free trade agreements can work, but we must ensure that these agreements have protections for our workers here and workers abroad."
Congress overwhelmingly approved the trade deals, which are generally popular in most parts of Florida, a big trading state with 15 seaports.
While seeking re-election, Wilson touts her sponsorship of a jobs fair for 9,000 job seekers in Miami and her efforts to halt deportations of Haitian residents.
"For close to two decades, I have fought on behalf of children, seniors, and the underserved — a voice for the voiceless," she said.
Though bracing for defeat, Etienne said his candidacy "gives people the option to jump ship."
"Anything can happen during an election," he said. "It's going to be tough to defeat her. We're hoping to win, but obviously expecting the worst."
The primary winner will face Republican Dufirstson Julio Neree, independent candidate Luis E. Fernandez and write-in candidate Alejandro M. Walters in the November election.
Family: Single, no children
Residence: North Miami
Political career: Elected clerk for the City of North Miami
Campaign coffers: No funds raised
Top three non-newspaper endorsements: None
Residence: Miami Gardens
Family: Widowed, three children
Occupation: Former elementary school principal
Campaign coffers: $277,620 raised through second quarter
Top three non-newspaper endorsements: Global Solutions Action Network