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FL-26 Republicans tussle in TV faceoff

@PatriciaMazzei

Five Republicans jostling for their party’s nomination to run against Congressman Joe Garcia, a Miami Democrat, faced off Sunday perhaps for the last time before the Aug. 26 primary election.

The two candidates who have tussled the most -– Miami-Dade School Board member Carlos Curbelo and Cutler Bay Mayor Ed MacDougall –- pointedly went after each other in their appearance on WPLG-ABC 10’s This Week in South Florida.

MacDougall's strategy has been to try to topple Curbelo, the presumed frontrunner in the race, in an apparent effort to split the Hispanic vote enough among the four Hispanic candidates to leave MacDougall as the winner. He accused Curbelo of being untrustworthy because he won’t disclose his media and public relations firm’s clients.

“He regulates hundreds of millions of dollars for the school board,” MacDougall said. “Why is this not coming out?”

Curbelo called the jab “frivolous,” saying he discloses what he’s required to by law. He put his firm, Capitol Gains, in his wife Cecilia’s name in 2009, citing advice from U.S. Senate attorneys. At the time, Curbelo was an aide to former Florida Republican Senator George LeMieux.

“This is a frivolous attack from someone who doesn’t even live in our district,” Curbelo said, noting that MacDougall’s Saga Bay home is outside the borders of the 26th congressional district, which extends from Westchester to Key West. Federal law does not require members of Congress to reside in the districts they represent.

Curbelo then criticized his opponent for donating to the 2004 presidential campaign of Democrat John Kerry. Campaign finance records show MacDougall, who did not respond to the attack on Sunday's show, contributed $1,500 between 2002 and 2004 to Kerry, a fellow Vietnam War veteran.

With MacDougall continuing his steady pokes, Curbelo has tried to play up his Republican establishment support from the likes of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and ex-presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who is scheduled to campaign with Curbelo in West Kendall on Monday.

The other two candidates sitting at the table –- former Miami-Dade County Commissioner Joe Martinez and attorney Lorenzo Palomares-Starbuck –- did not engage in the sniping, sticking instead to relaying their platforms and positions to viewers.

In an unusual arrangement, the fifth candidate, David Rivera, the embattled former congressman trying to regain his old seat, did not appear in the television studio with his rivals. Instead, as he requested, he was patched in from outside the West Dade Regional Library early-voting site –- purportedly because he was there meeting voters. As a result, the other contenders in the studio couldn’t hear his responses.

After the show, co-host Glenna Milberg wrote on Twitter that Rivera didn’t end up campaigning at the site at all, despite the TV station’s agreeing to his request “in good faith.”

“#Staged,” she wrote.

Co-host Michael Putney asked Rivera about the federal campaign-finance case against Ana Alliegro, the Rivera friend who has implicated the former congressman in a scheme to illegally fund a Democratic ringer candidate, Justin Lamar Sternad, in the 2012 election.

Rivera, who has yet to acknowledge that he’s a target of the federal investigation, ignored the question, as he has done since announcing his surprise candidacy in May. He later claimed to suspend his campaign, only to return a few weeks later with automated calls that have yet to appear on his finance reports.

“Michael, I don’t think you’re living in reality,” Rivera told Putney. “The more I talk to voters, the more they tell me the number one issue in this campaign is jobs and the economy.”

When Milberg repeated the question, calling Alliegro’s upcoming trial, scheduled to begin Aug. 25, “the 800-pound gorilla in the room,” Rivera retorted: “Maybe for you.”

Putney then asked MacDougall if it was proper for Rivera to appear on television campaigning in a white U.S. House of Representatives polo shirt identifying him as “Congressman David Rivera.”

“I’m not sure that it would be appropriate, but I think that’s the choice that he has,” MacDougall said.

Comments

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Jim Otto

Ms. Mazzei, I want to applaud you for a well written article that offered more facts about the show this morning. It certainly had some enlightening moments.

Digging a bit more into Mayor MacDougall's background, I realized he has lived in the South Dade area for 50+ years and attended public schools here (Palmetto, Miami-Dade, FIU), which is far longer than Mr. Curbelo, who was born in 1980.

In addition, I am sure that although Mayor MacDougall has lived in the same area for those 50+ years, the Congressional boundary lines have no doubt changed over time. I believe the Mayor was in the district the last time there was an election in 2012. There was also a time not too long ago that this district extended way out to Marco Island & Naples and not down to the Florida Keys. Mayor MacDougall appears to be the most centrally located of all the candidates. According to other information I uncovered, Mayor MacDougall has spent significant time in the Florida Keys for business and personal reasons and I have yet to see any tangible history of experience in the Florida Keys by Mr. Curbelo.

Thus, I found Mr. Curbelo's argument moot. Meanwhile Joe Garcia continues to be cozy out on Miami Beach.

Second, Mayor MacDougall was a Vietnam Veteran who saw significant combat action there during several tours of duty in addition to action as a Miami-Dade Police Officer, just like former Commissioner Joe Martinez, who is also running. I have no doubt they probably both saw combat on the streets of Miami during some very violent times in our city's history.

I know several Vietnam Veterans who saw the horrors of that wrong war and were aghast at our involvement in the 2003 Iraq invasion, which I personally feel was done for all the wrong reasons unlike the invasion of Afghanistan done in response to the terrible attacks of 9/11. John Kerry was indeed a fellow Vietnam Veteran, despite what one may saw of his war record, he was there. Having known firsthand injured veterans of the Iraq War, I can tell you this was also a wrong war and I am sure Mayor MacDougall had similar reasons that he did not want American soliders, as he once was, wasted on a needless war with Americans ending up getting killed. I am sure Mayor MacDougall had many friends killed needlessly in Vietnam.

Contrast this with Mr. Curbelo who has no military or even police experience of any kind. While Mr. Curbelo may have been factually correct, had he known the reasons Mayor MacDougall gave the contributions, he might have understood.

I also remember reading that the current head of the Miami-Dade Republican Party gave a contribution to Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Democrat, and I am sure there was probably a valid reason there, too.

Something I find very much at odds (and not talked about on this morning's program) is Mr. Curbelo is a member of a school board for public schools, but what information I could find about him shows he only attended private schools himself yet promotes Common Core. Many parents here in Kendall have removed their kids from public schools (at a very high cost) due to issues with changes to the school system of which he is responsible.

I hope, as Mr. Putney suggested, they do get to the reason why Mr. Curbelo still needs to keep his own company in his wife's name yet has represented clients since 2009. I did find that he represented casino interests, but being also a school board member?

Is he gambling with our kids' futures?

Elaine de Valle, aka Ladra

Also, fyi, I heard from several people working for different candidates at West Dade Library that David Rivera was, indeed, there til 4 p.m. closing time at the voting site. He's been there at least two other days in the early voting week.

Maybe he left Sunday after the satellite feed to go to another polling site or get lunch, even. The #Staged comment is unverified and made as true simply because two reporters said it? Seriously? This makes for a fact now?

And Curbelo hasn't worked for the Senate in four years. It is clear that he keeps his business in his wife's name -- even though she hasn't worked there a day in her life -- to keep his clients out of the public's eye.

DrPeters

I have been following this and several other political campaigns from out of town. If you follow it closely it becomes very obvious MacDougall has more maturity and is better prepared to handle issues at the federal level. Inasmuch as I have been reading about and listening to MacDougall (and the pundits and the bloggers) in several media outlets it seems he is doing something the other candidates in this race are not doing: he is meeting with the people he intends to represent to get their input and feedback. One media outlet speaks to how he has knocked on more than 14,000 doors. How novel is that? He has been hearing about the perceived lack of representation by the entrenched politicians---and this is from the next generations of who he describes as the sons and daughters of the pioneers. You would think the current Latin elected officials would be paying attention to the changes the next generation of Hispanics want. As some bloggers have advised the incumbents representing South Florida only seem to be concerned with control of their elected seat without regard to the representation the seat is supposed to provide. I think the vast majority of those people coming of age in recent years, and who are paying attention to federal issues like never before, realize there is a very needed change to what has become the status quo. I think it takes a MacDougall to break the pattern and provide a voice that will have clarity for the concerns of the newer generations.

Finally I hear MacDougall speak to issues whereas mainly Curbelo talks about MacDougall living outside the district and contributing to John Kerry because of the Viet Nam connection. Peggy Lee use to have a sultry song: "Is That All There Is?"

Ed MacDougall

Ed MacDougall:

It is not my normal reaction to comment on blogs but this Herald article deserves some attention. The Herald wrote that I my strategy is to "split the Hispanic vote" Really! Does the Herald think I can read the future? I was the first candidate to file in the district to run. It was months later that the next candidate filed. If the Herald was a true investigator, they would have known this. by the way, most of my family are Hispanic Americans, including my grandchildren.

The Herald also wrote "Carlos Curbelo is the presumed front runner" I never thought a news reporter presumed things. Could it be because they lack the funds to do proper investigative reporting and find out who is the best qualified and not just another candidate with no experience other than being a lobbyist? Or maybe because I am the mayor who has brought charges (successfully) against two lobbyists in our Town for breaking the peoples rules.

It is time for the people to not let the establishment pick their representatives. Not a single endorser of young Mr. Curbelo has interviewed other candidates. I have spoken with one casually as mayor, I certainly have not spoken with ANY of them about my candidacy.

I challenge the all powerful Herald to investigate the Lobbyist Curbelo and find out how he made $250,000 in just the last two years from the lobbying firm he put in his wife's name before running for the school board.

Let the people decide who will be their voice. Let us change the direction of our Great Nation and allow the words of our founding fathers ring out! "For the people by the People".

ed jenkins

Democrat primary voters are disgusted that party leaders have not found these many alternatives as republican party leaders have found for this position. They are horrified that the party would give up on contesting this position by ticking with the about to be indicted Garcia who the citizens want to resign immediately so that they can have someone in this position who represents their interests rather than someone who is using the position as negotiating leverage with prosecutors.

Jim Otto

Carlos Curbelo donated $2400 to Charlie Crist, never realized the error of his ways, and never wound up donating to Marco Rubio. Check the Federal Election Commission website for individual contributions.

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