Manny Diaz (Florida politician)

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Manny Diaz
Chair of the Florida Democratic Party
Assumed office
January 9, 2021
Preceded byTerrie Rizzo
41st Mayor of Miami
In office
November 17, 2001 – November 11, 2009
Preceded byJoe Carollo
Succeeded byTomás Regalado
Personal details
Born (1954-11-05) November 5, 1954 (age 67)
Havana, Cuba
Political partyDemocratic (Before 2000, 2008–present)
Other political
Independent (2000–2008)
Children4, including Manny
EducationFlorida International University (BA)
University of Miami (JD)

Manuel Alberto Diaz (born November 5, 1954) is a Cuban American politician currently serving as the chair of the Florida Democratic Party. From 2001 to 2009, he served as the mayor of Miami, Florida.

Early life and career[edit]

Diaz and his mother, Elisa, left Cuba in 1961.[1] He graduated from Belen Jesuit Preparatory School in 1973. He scored the first touchdown in his high school's football history, and was named "Mr. Belén" in his graduating class.[2] In 1977, Díaz received his bachelor's degree in political science from Florida International University. In 1980, he earned his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Miami School of Law.

Diaz's law firm was hired to represent Lázaro Gonzalez in the custody case over his grand-nephew Elián González. Diaz's participation in the trial and presence at the González household during the April 22, 2000 raid propelled him to national prominence.[3][4]


Diaz ran in the 2001 Miami mayoral election as an Independent. He and Maurice Ferré were the top candidates in the first round, locking out incumbent mayor Joe Carollo.[5] Diaz won the runoff election,[6] and was re-elected in 2005. As mayor, Díaz remained a partner in the law firm, but stated he would not be able to take new cases.[7]

When he first took office, Miami city government was bankrupt, held junk bond status, and was under a state financial oversight board. Mayor Diaz pursued a vast administrative overhaul that brought with it financial stability, healthy level of financial reserves, continued tax cuts, lowered millage rates, and an A+ bond rating on Wall Street.

Diaz was awarded the "Urban Innovator of the Year" award by the Manhattan Institute in 2004. In 2007, Diaz served on the selection committee for the Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence.[8]

In 2008, Díaz became president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. As an Independent, and a former registered Democrat, Diaz spoke at the 2008 Democratic National Convention and endorsed Obama's presidential bid.[9] Following Obama's election, Diaz was considered for HHS Secretary; the position would ultimately go to Kathleen Sebelius.[10]

Later career[edit]

Mayor Díaz left office in 2009 because of term limits. In the spring of 2010, Díaz was an IOP Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. Today Díaz is a partner at Lydecker Díaz, LLP in Miami.

On January 22, 2014, Manny Diaz and four other attorneys from his law firm, Lydecker Diaz, filed papers to represent Walmart in its battle to build in Midtown Miami.[11]

On November 23, 2020, Diaz declared his campaign for chair of the Florida Democratic party. He has been endorsed by Mike Bloomberg, whom he supported when Bloomberg ran for president and Jorge M. Perez who has ties with both former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.[12]

Personal life[edit]

Diaz is married to Robin Smith and has four children and three grandchildren. His son, Manny, is the defensive coordinator for the Penn State Nittany Lions football team and is the former head coach for the Miami Hurricanes football team. His daughter, Natalie, recently received her master's degree in public health with honors from Florida International University. His son, Robert, is pursuing a political science degree. His daughter, Elisa, recently[when?] received her Juris Doctorate from the Florida International University College of Law. His grandchildren are Colin, Gavin, and Manny Jr.


  1. ^ U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
  2. ^ The International Jesuit Alumni Directory Belen (Forum Press Inc., 1994)
  3. ^ "Lawyer for Cuban Boy's Relatives Is Elected Miami Mayor". The New York Times. November 14, 2001.
  4. ^ Pressley, Sue Anne (November 15, 2001). "From Elian's House to City Hall". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 9, 2021.
  5. ^ Canedy, Dana (November 7, 2001). "Colorful Miami Mayor Ousted; Race to Be Decided in Runoff". The New York Times. Retrieved January 9, 2021.
  6. ^ Canedy, Dana (November 14, 2001). "Lawyer for Cuban Boy's Relatives Is Elected Miami Mayor". The New York Times. Retrieved January 9, 2021.
  7. ^ Corral, Oscar (November 25, 2001). "Mayor Diaz up and running slowly". The Miami Herald. Retrieved January 9, 2021.
  8. ^ "Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence". Selection Committees. Bruner Foundation. Archived from the original on January 7, 2014. Retrieved January 7, 2014.
  9. ^ Miami Herald article, July 11, 2009[dead link]
  10. ^ Hicks, Jonathan P. (November 22, 2008). "President of Bronx Could Get Cabinet Post". The New York Times. Retrieved January 9, 2021.
  11. ^ "Manny Diaz, Miami's Former "Green Mayor," Is Now Representing Walmart Midtown". Miami New Times. February 11, 2014.
  12. ^ David Smiley (November 24, 2020). "Florida Democratic Party's top post sought by former Miami mayor". Tampa Bay Times. Archived from the original on January 17, 2021. Retrieved July 24, 2021.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by Mayor of Miami
Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Chair of the Florida Democratic Party