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D.C. analysts: Outlook less favorable for U.S. Rep. David Rivera's reelection

Two well-known Washington D.C. political analysts have updated their ratings of the congressional race between U.S. Rep. David Rivera, a Republican, and Democratic challenger Joe Garcia.

Both changes are less favorable for Rivera, who has been connected to a campaign-finance investigation into one of Garcia's primary opponents, Justin Lamar Sternad. (Here's the latest article on that investigation.) Rivera has accused The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald of being in cahoots with Garcia's campaign.

The Cook Political Report has switched its rating from "Lean Republican" to "Toss Up." The Rothenberg Political Report has moved its rating from "Lean Republican" to "Toss-up/Tilt Republican."

"By the numbers it shouldn't be a competitive district, but with Rivera, with all of his ongoing legal problems and investigations surrounding him, it makes him more vulnerable," Rothenberg senior analyst Jessica Taylor said.

Garcia's camp played up the Cook rating in particular, citing a recent poll commissioned by the campaign that showed him ahead of Rivera. Earlier this week, Garcia helped introduce former President Bill Clinton at a Florida International University rally for President Barack Obama, and the Obama campaign will feature Garcia at a West Kendall field office opening on Saturday.

The release also notes that Rivera did not share the stage with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney at a recent Miami rally, though other local GOP members of Congress did.

"Rivera has disappeared from the political scene," the release says.

Rivera has repeatedly said that he is focused on his work in Congress. On Friday, his office issued three press releases: one noting a Rivera floor speech on the plight of Cuban dissidents, a second joining other Republicans' call that Obama meet with Israel's prime minister, and a third denouncing the use of a Che Guevara image as part of an Environmental Protection Agency email kicking off Hispanic Heritage Month.

Congressional District 26, which stretches from Kendall to Key West and was redrawn earlier this year as part of once-a-decade redistricting, gives Rivera a slim, 4,000 Republican voter margin.

--PATRICIA MAZZEI AND AMY SHERMAN

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