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Rep. Artiles might run for Congress in "full-contact" campaign involving Genting, Miami Dolphins

@MarcACaputo

State Rep. Frank Artiles is examining a run for Florida’s most-scandalous Congressional seat in a bid that could spell a bloody GOP primary in the shadow of big-dollar outside interests from the Genting Group casino company to the Miami Dolphins.

For the past few days, Artiles has been phoning political players about running for Congressional District 26 and even spoke Wednesday night to one of his potential Republican opponents, Miami-Dade School Board Member Carlos Curbelo.

“Carlos Curbelo is a friend of mine; I don’t have a problem with him,” said Artiles, stressing that he hasn’t made up his mind yet on whether to run for office.

“Miami politics is a full-contact sport.”

It’s also rife with innuendo and rivalry.

Artiles’ interest came just after fellow state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz decided not to run for the Kendall-to-Key West seat, intensifying speculation among Miami politicos that Miami-Dade delegation members hold a grudge against Curbelo for working as a consultant and lobbyist for Genting when it was implicated in funding opponents against three other legislators.

Curbelo has denied putting up candidates to run against the legislators -- Mike Bileca, Jeannete Nunez and Carlos Trujillo– for not backing Genting’s effort to bring casino gaming to downtown Miami.

“It’s a myth,” Curbelo said. “These people are friends of mine… Frank is a friend of mine as well.”

Still, Curbelo acknowledges that the representatives had approached him about whether he was involved in recruiting candidates to run against his fellow Republicans.

Artiles downplayed any talk of revenge. He said he was running because others had asked him to examine the race to knock of Democratic incumbent, Joe Garcia, whose campaign and congressional office are reeling from an absentee ballot-request fraud scandal.

Garcia won his seat against a scandal-plagued incumbent last year in a race where another candidate was convicted of federal crimes.

Meantime, Diaz, Trujillo and Bileca are actively being targeted by Stephen Ross, a fellow Republican who owns the Miami Dolphins and vowed revenge against them for their role in helping kill the team’s effort to secure public money to help fund a $350 million renovation to Sun Life Stadium.

Ross' political group, Florida Jobs First, is reaching out to potential candidates to pose primary challenges to them and has trashed them in mailers.

Florida Jobs’ spokesman, Eric Jotkoff, credited the effort with keeping Diaz out of the CD-26 race and implied that Artiles is next.

“Diaz clearly opted out because he was afraid of the pressure we have brought and would continue to bring. But our focus is not just on these three, and frankly not just on Miami-Dade,” Jotkoff said.

“So if a guy who opposed creating 4,000 good jobs at a time when Miami-Dade needs them, and opposed giving voters a voice in the decision, opts to run for higher office, you can count on us to be involved.”

Florida Jobs also opposes Cutler Bay Mayor Ed MacDougall, another candidate for CD-26 who travelled to Tallahassee to oppose the Dolphins’ stadium plan last year.

Artiles, who also spoke with the National Republican Congressional Committee about his potential candidacy, said he’d need to have a long conversation with his wife and kids about running for congress.

He said the threat of the Ross’ money is to be expected.

“When you get elected in Miami-Dade – whether it’s state, local or federal – you have to expect to get hit by special interests,” Artiles said.

Artiles acknowledged that he had a blemish on his record: His failure to move into his district quickly when he was elected in 2010. But, he pointed out, Garcia hasn’t yet moved into his congressional district, either.

The bevy of Republicans have lined up to take out Garcia, who occupies one of Florida’s few highly competitive Congressional seats, which he won after defeating U.S. Rep. David Rivera, who was nagged by federal investigations into his campaign and personal finances.

One candidate who ran against Garcia in the Democratic primary in 2012 was convicted in federal court of campaign-finance irregularities.

As if all the players weren’t confusing enough, two more camps have been drawn into the mix in Miami’s political gossip circle: U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart.

Other Republicans have whispered that Rubio supporters are still miffed at Curbelo’s initial involvement with Charlie Crist’s campaign against him in 2010, when the former governor was still a Republican.

But Curbelo points out that Rubio’s nephew plays a top role in his campaign.

Curbelo was a spokesman in 2008 for Diaz-Balart and his brother, former U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, when they fended off Garcia and former Hialeah Mayor Raul Martinez, respectively.

Martinez’s son now works for Garcia; and Lincoln Diaz-Balart has since retired and did work for Genting, bringing Curbelo along with him in 2011.

Comments

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Mayra

We know Artiles is serious about full contact. He punched someone in the face in Tallahassee not too long ago. Details to follow.

Ed Jenkins

Anyone but this corrupt Garcia. I cannot believe the Herald covered for this crook until after the election and now we are stuck with him for another year and a half.

Hector - Lifelong Republican

I do not know much about Artiles, besides the fact he was a marine and ran several times before he won.

Curbelo is in bed with the Miami Dolphins and did recruit candidates to run against the members listed. He talked Eugenio Perez into running against Rep. Bileca when he originally filed to run against Curbelo for his school board seat. The same goes for Libby Perez against Rep. Nunez. He also tried to get Sweetwater Vice Mayor Jose M. Diaz to run against Rep. Trujillo, who instead got stuck against the zealot, Paul Crespo.

Do not trust Curbelito and his Mega-Gaming and Dolphin contacts with representing our community. He is a RINO (see Charlie Christ relationship). I'd rather have Joe!

Susana la Republicana

Artiles is the Raul Martinez of the GOP. He is in politics to make a buck and has issues with physical violence / anger management.

whasup

Artiles would be a great one to send up to D.C. to give the Democrats in the House a strong dose of the hellish medicine they deserve.

Sellout Stooge

Carlos Curbelo was Charlie Crist's right hand man.

V Seijas

I served with Sgt Frank Artiles in the Marine Corps for 8 years. He is a 'stand-up guy', leader, and Marine. He always took initiative, and got the job done. He is not one to shy away from a task, no matter how difficult. He saved 'us' millions in abusive rate hikes by those that would dictate insurance policy. The fact that he got into politics is a little surprising, but then again he takes the initiative to fix whats broken instead of complain and do nothing like so many critics. He has had to show great restraint, bearing, and discipline in the face of all the non-rate, 'wannabe know-it-alls' If he ran I know that all of the Marines that served with him would support him again like we have. Washington could us an integrity check.
Sgt V. Seijas 'Shrek'

Richard C

So why does Bileca hate Artiles?

Mark

Can we see Artiles fight Ross over a new Dolphins stadium? Winner takes all?

V Seijas

It is awesome to see so many people speculating on Frank's possibilities in other political offices and even what they'd hope he would, or could do. What is even more surprising is, no one saying what they would do. What position/issue they would champion. I guess it's easier to be a critic behind a screen name, than it is to be the guy trying to get things done, like stopping the insurance industry from squashing us out, or making sure we don't get nailed with 'one way' deals on gambling, protecting local industries. It's hard to be man in the public eye when you say what you mean, and mean what you say. It may not always be popular, but then again, it takes courage to confront the opposition head-on. Frank, keep fighting the good fight! 'Get-some', Semper Fidelis, Sgt V. Seijas

V Seijas

Ask Bileca what his issues are with Artiles, I am no one to comment on what someone else thinks. I would be interested to know too. How long was Raul Martinez Mayor for? If you want to compare Frank Artiles to someone "that's in it for buck" I would pick someone that didn't get re-elected so many times, and for a guy 'chasing the quick buck' he sure lives pretty modest, I'm just saying before we open our suck hole to talk smack, lets get our story straight.

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