Democrats have struggled to find their footing in their effort to unseat U.S. Rep. David Rivera, R-Miami, in spite of his legal problems, and now are poised for a tough primary fight in August before taking on the congressman this fall.
But Democrats say they're uniting behind the candidates. Two frontrunners, Joe Garcia and Gloria Romero Roses, face Gustavo Marin and Lamar Sternad.
"The toxic state of the GOP brand is hurting Republican congressional candidates, and Floridians are refusing to support Republican incumbents who have become part of the problem in Washington," said Florida Democratic Party Executive Director Scott Arceneaux. "Our strong Democratic candidates are entering the final campaign months in excellent position, and will have the resources they need to win."
Romero Roses was originally listed on the "Emerging Races" list of candidates eligible for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's "Red to Blue" program. Candidates land on that list by "making themselves competitive by running smart campaigns which are becoming increasingly competitive," the DCCC says.
She's now off that list, but the entire race is part of the DCCC's "Red to Blue" campaign to overturn Republican-held seats. Both Romero Roses and Garcia have done well in their fundraising, even as Rivera's has lagged in the shadow of numerous investigations. Rivera raised just $92,700 last quarter and spent $57,529. He has $213,648 banked -- but is carrying $138,573 in debt.
Garcia raised $250,194. He spent $55,661, leaving him $194,532 in cash on hand. Romera Roses raised $99,397 and she spent $63,980. She loaned herself $150,000, leaving her with $185,416 in her campaign coffers.
"Since I’ve gotten into this race, I’ve spent every day talking to voters across this district," Romero Roses said. "People everywhere agree—Washington has repeatedly failed to show the kind of leadership South Florida needs. People have responded to my message of working hard to create jobs and to look out for our youth, families, and elders. We’ve built our campaign with their support, and we’re going to keep working every day to bring real, positive change to South Florida."
All the friendly talk aside, Romero Roses has released a 30-second television commercial, titled "Progressive." It aims at Democrats who will vote in the Aug. 14 primary, casting her as the best alternative. It also makes a pitch to Hispanics: Roses, who was born in Colombia but raised mostly in Hollywood, briefly speaks in Spanish.
Here's Garcia's take, focused heavily on Rivera instead of his primary opponents: "I am humbled by the tremendous support I’ve received. Our community has shown that it wants to end David Rivera’s era of investigations and scandals. They want a congressman that works to create jobs and solve problems. From Key West to Westchester, voters are tired of being embarrassed by their representative."