Veterans’ group backs Raquel Pacheco in SD 36


Small business owner and veteran Raquel Pacheco got a boost in her campaign to unseat Sen. Ileana Garcia. A first-of-its-kind veterans organization is backing her bid to represent Miami-Dade County’s Senate District 36.

VoteVets PAC is a national nonprofit that throws its weight behind “progressive veterans,” and lays claim to more than 1.5 million supporters.

“We at VoteVets are always so proud to see veterans committed to continuing their service after the uniform,” said Jon Soltz, Iraq War veteran and Chairman of the VoteVets PAC. “In these turbulent political times, our veterans, communities and country need leaders like Raquel who will continue to serve the nation and put the country first.”

Pacheco, a veteran of the Army National Reserve, is far behind the incumbent in the money race to represent the district that covers the center-east part of the county, including the southern half of Miami Beach, the barrier island of Virginia Key and the cities of Coral Gables and Sweetwater.

Between her personal account and her political committee, Defend Democracy, Pacheco has raised about $88,000. That compares to $845,098 that her rival has raised since she was elected in 2020. That counts money Garcia received through her personal account and her political committee, No More Socialism

Garcia is high on the list of targets that Democrats would like to see defeated. The co-founder of Latinas for Trump, supporting President Donald Trump, Garcia won her seat by just 32 votes in a 2020 race later revealed to involve a “ghost candidate” scheme that has since led to criminal charges. Miami State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said her office had no evidence Garcia knew in or took part in the plot, and Garcia has denied involvement.

The news release announcing the VoteVets endorsement highlights Garcia’s controversial actions and statements on the floor of the Senate. Garcia voted for the ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, even for victims of rape and incest, and announced that “gay is not a permanent thing” on the floor of the Senate.

Pacheco said she was grateful for the support from VoteVets.

“As a veteran and former Soldier of the Year, I know what it means to be a leader in the fight for our rights,” Pacheco said. “Now, I’m running for the Florida Senate to take that fight to Tallahassee and stop radicalized Republicans working to strip Floridians of our personal freedoms.”


Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics contributed to this report.

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