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Joe Garcia officially kicks off campaign

Touting himself as an independent leader, Democrat Joe Garcia on Tuesday launched his second bid for Florida's 25th congressional seat -- which does not have an incumbent this time around.

Republican Mario Diaz-Balart, who narrowly defeated Garcia in 2008, was re-elected without opposition for the neighboring congressional seat vacated by his retiring brother, Republican Lincoln Diaz-Balart.

"This is going to be tough, but good things are worth a tough fight," Garcia told more than 100 people in a meeting room at Miami Dade College's Kendall campus who greeted him with chants of "Go, Joe, go."

Unlike two years ago, Garcia faces a primary challenge in Luis Meurice in the hot race. There are also several Republicans running for the post, including state Rep. David Rivera, the GOP front runner.

Garcia didn't mention Rivera or any of his opponents, but the state budget chief was clearly on his mind as he assailed "Tallahassee politicians" for passing a controversial teacher pay and tenure bill -- ultimately vetoed by Gov. Charlie Crist -- and what Garcia called raising taxes last year when the legislature increased fees for services.

"Now these very same Tallahassee politicians who passed a tax increase of $2 billion in the middle of one of Florida's greatest recessions want to take these policies to Washington," Garcia said. "I say no way, no how."