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The gloves are off: Joe Garcia attacking David Rivera on immigration, oil drilling

Democratic congressional hopeful Joe Garcia has come out with a couple of YouTube videos bashing state Rep. David Rivera -- the Republican front runner in the race for U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart's current seat -- for his stances on oil drilling and Arizona's controversial immigration law.

In one video, Garcia slams Rivera for not supporting or opposing the immigration law. Garcia called the law "racist" on two Spanish-language TV appearances last week.

Florida Republicans -- particularly Hispanics like Rivera and Senate candidate Marco Rubio -- are walking a fine line on their comments on the law (see stories here, here and here). Rivera has said illegal immigration should be addressed at the federal level -- and that the Arizona law would "absolutely not" solve the illegal immigration problem.

On oil drilling, Rivera told us last month that he supports existing laws that keep drilling away from the shore, like a federal ban that prohibits drilling 125 miles off state beaches.

"I think it should be maintained until we can assess what happened in this case," he said of the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico. "I would not shut down oil exploration. I would make sure that everything is done to assess what went wrong in this case."

Last year, Rivera voted for a bill in the Florida House that would have allowed drilling between three and 10 miles off Florida's shore. The bill died after the Senate did not take it up.

In another video, Garcia is proposing an online petition for Gov. Charlie Crist to call a special legislative session to constitutionally ban drilling off Florida's coast. Crist had sought such a session soon after the spill; Republicans decried the move as a political ploy.