Mary Barzee Flores was born in Miami’s Jackson Memorial Hospital. Her father, Austin Barzee, was a veteran of World War II and managed a fish and tackle store in Miami. Her mother, Margaret, was an Air Force officer in the Korean War and a registered nurse. Mary grew up in a small house outside of Little Havana, with her brother, Bill, and sister, Anastasia. The Barzee siblings attended Miami-Dade public schools, and Mary graduated from Coral Gables High. After law school, Mary worked as an attorney in private practice briefly before joining the federal Office of the Public Defender in Miami, where she served for 12 years. While in the public defender’s office, she met, fell in love with, and married Hector Flores. They have been together for 28 years and have two children, Riley and Adrian. In 2002, Mary decided to run for an open seat as a Florida Circuit Court judge. She was elected without opposition and, in her time on the bench, earned a reputation as a tough but fair and well-respected judge. After nearly eight years on the Circuit Court, Mary retired and went back into private practice. But just a few years later, she again answered the call to public service when President Barack Obama nominated her for a judgeship on the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Florida. Despite initially recommending her nomination to President Obama—along with his fellow Florida senator, Bill Nelson—Senator Marco Rubio prevented Mary from ever sitting on the bench. Rubio cited two, small political donations from the 1990s—to the ACLU and EMILY’s List—for his decision to block her nomination. Like Judge Merrick Garland—and dozens of President Obama’s other, well-qualified judicial nominees—Mary was never even given a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee, much less an up-or-down vote on her nomination. Mary is running for Congress because she remains committed to public service, even more so after experiencing, firsthand, how petty our politics have become.
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