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Changes in district helped lead to David Rivera's defeat

After two years of investigations and scandal, David Rivera may owe his collapse at the polls on Tuesday as much to the changing politics of his newly created congressional district as to the crippling weight of humiliating headlines.

Rivera, a Republican, lost his congressional seat in an 11-point loss to Democrat Joe Garcia, whom Rivera had beaten to win the seat in 2010. Rivera has been hounded by criminal investigations since before he took office, hobbling his once-formidable fundraising and leaving him adrift in his own party.

Rivera says he lost the race not because of the press reports of the criminal investigations — probes whose very existence he once denied — but because of an unexpected wave of support for President Barack Obama, and weaker turnout for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

“I think an analysis of the results demonstrates that the presidential election had a significant impact on several congressional races, including my own,” Rivera said Wednesday. “It makes it tough for Republicans down ballot to be successful.”

Rivera also may have been undone in part by a changing climate in his own congressional district, which was redrawn by the Legislature earlier this year.

The new district, which stretches from Sweetwater through the southwestern suburbs of Miami-Dade to the Keys, is not as heavily Republican as the district that Rivera won in 2010. And a late Democratic voter registration push by the Obama campaign made the district even more difficult to hold.