July 16, 2015

Miami Republican congressman leads cash race over Democratic challenger

@PatriciaMazzei

Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo, a freshman gearing up for a competitive 2016 re-election race, raked in nearly $450,000 in the quarter that ended June 30.

The haul brings Curbelo's total to about $1.2 million, with more than $993,000 of that remaining in the bank. The total includes more than $110,000 transferred from a political action committee set up for Curbelo set up jointly with the Republican Party.

"There is no doubt that our campaign will have all the resources necessary to make sure the voters of Florida's 26th Congressional District are aware of Carlos' bipartisan work in Congress on behalf of our community," campaign spokeswoman Nicole Rapanos said in a statement. His campaign has run afoul of the Federal Election Committee before, failing to property report a significant number of transactions and being forced to pay a fine as a result.

Challenger Annette Taddeo, who has the high-profile backing of national Democrats, collected about $235,000 in the same quarter that ended June 30, including $6,500 she contributed to herself. She has less than $170,000 on hand so far, and more than $405,000 in debts carried over from her unsuccessful 2008 congressional run against Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

Her campaign touted an "outpouring of support from grassroots donors."

"The voters of South Dade and Monroe understand that the broken, divisive Washington politics pushed by our opponent and his wealthy special interest backers are politics at its worst, and they are ready for a change," campaign manager Shaun Daniels said in a statement,highlighting that more than 90 percent of Taddeo's contributors gave $200 or less. "Annette is the voter's candidate. And she's just getting started."

He also noted that the Florida Supreme Court has ordered state lawmakers to redraw the Westchester-to-Key West district to fix gerrymandering in Homestead -- a change that could benefit Democrats, though it may not involve a huge number of voters.

Still, Republicans pounced on the disparity in the totals, poking the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which brought its chairman to campaign with Taddeo last month. Curbelo has the advantage of being an incumbent, though when he posed his own challenge to former Rep. Joe Garcia, Curbelo also posted robust totals.

July 14, 2015

Florida politicians react to Iran nuclear deal

@PatriciaMazzei

The big news of the day in politics and the federal government is the announcement that a group of countries, led by the U.S., negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program have reached an agreement. 

Some Florida Republicans had harsh words for President Obama's administration over the deal, and at least a couple of Democrats sounded skeptical. Here are their statements:

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida

First thing is to not tear down this agreement before the ink is even dry, before we even read it. Congress has a role now, by law, and it's to thoroughly scrutinize the details of the agreement. We're not going to approve something that doesn't keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons and doesn't give us the ability to inspect and verify that Iran abides by all the terms.

U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Miami

It was announced today that a final agreement with Iran has been reached.  Unfortunately, it appears that all key aspects of Iran’s nuclear program will remain in place. Preliminary information suggests that the agreement not only fails to completely prevent Iran from gaining nuclear capabilities, but it also strengthens the regime’s ability to support terror in the region, both militarily and financially. In addition to the many troubling aspects of what looks like a weak deal that gives Iran undeserved concessions, it’s important to note that Iran still holds American hostages. 

Protecting the security interests of the United States and our allies is of the utmost importance.  While Congress will carefully review the details, the initial reports do not give me confidence that an acceptable deal has been reached.

Continue reading "Florida politicians react to Iran nuclear deal" »

Marco Rubio: Iran deal 'undermines' U.S. national security

@PatriciaMazzei

Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and has long criticized the Obama administration's nuclear talks with Iran, said Tuesday after an agreement was announced that the deal "undermines our national security."

Here's Rubio's full statement:

I have said from the beginning of this process that I would not support a deal with Iran that allows the mullahs to retain the ability to develop nuclear weapons, threaten Israel, and continue their regional expansionism and support for terrorism. Based on what we know thus far, I believe that this deal undermines our national security. President Obama has consistently negotiated from a position of weakness, giving concession after concession to a regime that has American blood on its hands, holds Americans hostage, and has consistently violated every agreement it ever signed. I expect that a significant majority in Congress will share my skepticism of this agreement and vote it down. Failure by the President to obtain congressional support will tell the Iranians and the world that this is Barack Obama's deal, not an agreement with lasting support from the United States. It will then be left to the next President to return us to a position of American strength and re-impose sanctions on this despicable regime until it is truly willing to abandon its nuclear ambitions and is no longer a threat to international security.

Marco Rubio schedules Haiti hearing in Senate

via @Jacquiecharles

As campaigning for Haiti’s long overdue Aug. 9 legislative elections gets underway, at least one Republican presidential candidate wants to know what’s going on.

Marco Rubio, who chairs a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on Western Hemisphere affairs, has invited the outgoing State Department Haiti special coordinator, Thomas Adams, to provide an overview at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday.

A Rubio aide said the Florida senator wants to assess how U.S. funds are being spent in Haiti five years after it suffered a devastating earthquake. He also wants to know if the country will be able to pull off balloting to elect 130 parliamentarians as well as a scheduled Oct. 25 presidential election.

More here.

July 13, 2015

Miami Republican congressman posits Donald Trump candidacy may be Democratic plot

@PatriciaMazzei

Miami is a hotbed for phantom candidates, complete with four federal criminal convictions in two separate cases to prove it.

So perhaps it's no surprise that a local Republican congressman thinks Donald Trump's bid for the GOP presidential nomination could be a similar ploy.

Miami Rep. Carlos Curbelo, whose district saw two phony candidates run in a pair of elections before he took office, has taken to Spanish-language media to suggest that Trump's campaign could be a Democratic scheme to hurt the Republican Party.

 "I spoke to @ahoraoscarhaza on @z92miami about absurd comments by @realDonaldTrump and I offered my theory that he's a phantom candidate," Curbelo tweeted last week after an interview with the popular radio host Oscar Haza.

In another interview with Colombia's W Radio, Curbelo, who supports Jeb Bush for president, piled on.

"There are too many important national, local international topics to waste time talking about a person who, I repeat, in my judgment is irrelevant -- and who quite possibly is a phantom candidate recruited by the left to create this entire political circus," he said.

Continue reading "Miami Republican congressman posits Donald Trump candidacy may be Democratic plot" »

Miami Rep. Carlos Curbelo appointed to defense bill conference committee

@PatriciaMazzei

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner has chosen a Miami Republican to sit on a committee hammering out a defense bill the House GOP used earlier this year as a way to vote against immigration.

Rep. Carlos Curbelo, who is pro-immigration reform, was one of only 20 Republicans (including fellow Miami Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen) to vote against an amendment that stripped the National Defense Authorization Act from a provision that would have pushed the Pentagon to allow young people brought into the country illegally as children to serve in the military.

Now Curbelo will be on the committee to try to iron out differences between the more conservative House and the less conservative Senate over the bill. But his appointment is not about immigration, Boehner said, but about his district, which extends from Westchester to Key West.

 "Rep. Curbelo works tirelessly for the Coasties stationed at US Coast Guard Sector Key West, and as the representative of our country's southern-most Congressional district, has unique insights into the eradication of drug trafficking," Boehner said in a statement provided by Curbelo's office.

"As Vice Chairman of the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, it is a privilege to represent my South Florida constituents while working on the very important issues affecting our military servicemen and women," Curbelo said.

It is the freshman's first conference committee appointment.

July 09, 2015

Reaction from members of Congress directly affected by Florida Supreme Court redistricting order

@PatriciaMazzei

Eight incumbent members of Congress were directly affected Thursday by the Florida Supreme Court's ruling that state lawmakers redraw their districts. (Other representatives will likely be indirectly affected by new boundaries.) 

Here's what the members of Congress had to say:

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami (District 27)

I look forward to representing the constituents of whatever district the court decides should be drawn up. It has been an incredible experience to have represented every part of Miami-Dade County during my years of public service so in whatever form the district ends up, it will be like coming home again. No worries.

Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Miami (District 26)

Since arriving in Washington I have been focused on improving the quality of life in South Florida and making our country stronger. The potential of new district lines is not a distraction for me nor will it diminish my desire to represent and serve the community in which my wife and I are raising our family.

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami (District 25)

At this stage, I am still reviewing the Florida Supreme Court's opinion, and will be interested to see what the State Legislature will do.

Continue reading "Reaction from members of Congress directly affected by Florida Supreme Court redistricting order" »

The 8 congressional districts the Florida Supreme Court wants redrawn

@PatriciaMazzei

The Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday that legislators must go back to the drawing board for eight of the state’s 27 congressional districts:

• District 5, held by Rep. Corinne Brown, D-Jacksonville

• District 13, held by Rep. David Jolly, R-Tampa

• District 14, held by Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa

• District 21, held by Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton

• District 22, held by Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach

• District 25, held by Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami

• District 26, held by Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Miami

• District 27, held by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami

Let the Alan Grayson-Patrick Murphy messaging-poll wars begin

@PatriciaMazzei

In fact, they began even before Alan Grayson announced his campaign Thursday.

Wednesday night, some voters -- at least in Miami -- were robo-polled by the Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling firm about Grayson and Patrick Murphy, his chief rival for the 2016 Florida Senate nomination.

PPP won't disclose which private client it's working for. But the poll tried to gauge which messages -- read: attacks -- resonate against the two congressmen.

Questions about Grayson asked in detail about his messy divorce and about the possibility that his girlfriend might run for his Orlando House seat. Questions about Murphy asked about his being a former Republican.

The strongest barbs will surely be coming soon to a TV near you.

--with Jenny Staletovich

Carlos Curbelo PAC says it's raised $75K for pro-immigration House Republicans

@PatriciaMazzei

A political action committee created by Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo has collected more than $75,000 since January to back GOP members of the U.S. House who support immigration reform, Curbelo said Thursday.

The so-called leadership PAC, a type of organization that can fund a candidate's non-campaign expenses and contribute to other candidates, is named What a Country!, or "WACPAC."

"I am working hard every day in Congress to make immigration reform a reality, and WACPAC is an important part of these efforts," Curbelo said in a statement.

"There is growing momentum among House Republicans for overhauling and modernizing our country's immigration laws, and WACPAC will continue backing candidates who have the courage to lead on this important issue. Now is the time to secure our borders, reform our visa system, and find a fair solution for the many undocumented residents who are contributing to our economy."

Curbelo said the PAC has already contributed to the campaigns of 30 sitting House Republicans, though he didn't immediately name them or say how much each had received. 

Many are likely to have opposed an amendment to a national defense bill in May that erased language that would have pushed for immigrants brought into the country illegally as children to be allowed to serve in the U.S. military. Twenty House Republicans voted against the amendment, including Curbelo and fellow Miami Republicans Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

While the three local Cuban Americans face no backlash for their pro-immigration stance in a majority Hispanic community, many of their GOP colleagues do not have similar support from their constituents.