Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) has released a new ad showing his opponent, former Hialeah Mayor Raul Martinez (D), grabbing a smaller man by the head and punching him.

The 1999 footage taken by Univision shows an altercation between Martinez and a butcher named Ernesto Mirabel, according to a report in the Miami New Times. The footage was taken shortly after Martinez came to the aid of the Hialeah police chief, who had been hit in the head by a rock during a protest by a group upset over the deportation of some Cuban immigrants.

Here's the ad:


Mirabel was charged with battery on an elected official, resisting arrest with violence and inciting a riot. The charges were later dropped; the Diaz-Balart ad says Martinez "physically assaulted a young man" and then lied about it "so the man would be charged with the assault and sent to prison."

Mirabel has had some run-ins with the law, and Aaron Blye, a spokesman for Martinez, said the new ad showed Diaz-Balart would rather defend that type of character than police officers who are under assault.

Observers have labeled the race between Diaz-Balart and Martinez, who are both from Cuba, as a toss-up. Diaz-Balart is serving his eighth term in Congress, while Martinez was Hialeah's mayor for more than two decades.

-Ian Swanson