U.S. Rep. David Rivera — whose tenure was marked by a series of scandals and who remains the target of two federal investigations — was booted out of office Tuesday, becoming the only Miami-Dade congressional incumbent to lose his seat in recent memory.
Rivera, a Republican, lost to Democrat Joe Garcia, who handily picked up the Kendall-to-Key West seat for his party on a night when the GOP kept control of the U.S. House of Representatives. It was Rivera’s first-ever loss at the polls in a political career going back a decade.
“Thank you, South Florida!” a buoyant Garcia, 49, told more than a hundred supporters who were packed into Casa Vieja, a Colombian restaurant in West Kendall. “Today, our community has spoken. It has decided to turn a new page, move in a new direction.”
Another Republican incumbent, Rep. Allen West of Palm Beach Gardens, appeared to lose to Democrat Patrick Murphy by a sliver in the early hours of Wednesday. The race will likely head to a recount.
In his victory speech, Garcia called for compromise between Democrats and Republicans. In his only reference to his opponent, Garcia said Rivera “ran a hard campaign. We wish him and his family well.”
Two candidates without party affiliation, Angel Fernandez and Jose Peixoto, also competed.
In a third closely watched South Florida congressional contest, former West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel, a Democrat, easily beat former state House Republican Leader Adam Hasner in a race for an open seat that stretches from Fort Lauderdale to Riviera Beach.
Rivera, a former state representative and powerful Florida House budget chief, tacitly conceded defeat Tuesday night.
“The results are still incomplete, but they do not appear to be positive,” he said. “I want to thank my friends and family and God for all the blessings I have received from this community. It has been a great honor to serve this community for 10 years.”
“In or out, I will keep fighting — that will never change,” he added. “We must make sure that this district returns to a Republican congressman in 2014.” More here.