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With $440k cash haul, Joe Garcia doesn't appear too damaged by election scandal


U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia has had the roughest of days for a congressional freshman: His former campaign team is under investigation for possible elections crimes and a bevy of Republicans is lining up to take him out.

But none of it has appeared to really hurt the Miami Democrat’s fundraising.

Garcia’s team announced he raised about $440,000 in the last three months and has about $800,000 cash on hand.

"We are honored by the overwhelming support and I will continue to reach across the aisle and push for real immigration reform, improve our economy and get our fiscal house in order,” Garcia said in a written statement. “This also means pushing everyday for student loan reform until we succeed."

Garcia sits in one of the most-competitive seats in Florida, District 26. Democrats narrowly outnumber Republicans, but the sizable number of independents make it a truly swing district.

Garcia’s campaign also noted that, according to the Washington Post, Garcia votes his party line about 82 percent of the time, making him one of the most-moderate members of Florida’s 26-member congressional delegation – a reflection of the diverse Key West to Miami-Dade district.

President Obama carried District 26 by a comfortable 7-percentage point margin, and Garcia won his seat by nearly 11 points over a scandal plagued incumbent, Rep. David Rivera.

But now Garcia’s campaign has come under the microscope as well. His top adviser, Jeffrey Garcia (no relation), who was abruptly fired as Garcia’s congressional chief of staff in late May after he took a measure of responsibility for an aborted scheme to illegally request the absentee ballots of about 500 voters without their permission.

Another Garcia staffer, Giancarlo Sopo, was implicated in the scheme and was put on unpaid leave. Sopo resigned last week. A third member of Garcia’s campaign team, Jon Estes, is also under investigation in the case launched by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office.

Three Republicans have announced they’ll take on Garcia: Miami-Dade School Board Member Carlos Curbelo, (who made his candidacy official today), former Miami-Dade Commission Chairman Joe Martinez and Cutler Bay Mayor Ed MacDougall.

Republican-paid polls indicate Garcia is vulnerable, but he's not weak. Garcia's team released the fundraising totals just as Curbelo made his candidacy official.

Even before the latest scandal broke, Republicans said they believed Garcia was vulnerable, in part because Republicans often do better in non-presidential election years in Florida.

Garcia’s fundraising, however, shows he’s tough to beat.

Though his latest total of $440,000 is large, Garcia’s cash haul is slightly less than the eye-popping $550,000 he announced pulling in during is first full quarter of fundraising. But that amount was a tough sum to match.

Garcia’s campaign said he has the second-highest fundraising total of the nearly 70 freshman members of the house, and that it’s a “reflection of his focus on the issues important to voters.”