January 14, 2015

Are Democrats recruiting Annette Taddeo to run for Congress again?

National Democrats may once again encourage Annette Taddeo to run for Congress in South Florida.

According to The Hill, Taddeo was spotted in Washington this week meeting with the Democratic Congressional Committee, which is looking for candidates to challenge Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo in 2016.

Taddeo was in D.C. Tuesday and Wednesday meeting with Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Ben Ray Luján (N.M.), DCCC Recruitment Chairman Denny Heck (Wash.), Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra (Calif.) and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.), a House Democratic official told The Hill. 

While Taddeo was in town, she also met with several other Florida Democratic lawmakers, including Reps. Ted Deutch, Lois Frankel and Kathy Castor, as she weighs a congressional bid. 

Taddeo is a former lieutenant governor candidate -- she ran last year with Charlie Crist -- who lost to Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in 2008. She also ran unsuccessfully for Miami-Dade County Commission in 2010.

National Republicans pounced on the nugget of news, sending reporters an email titled, "Back to the Future IV Starring Annette Taddeo."

"Annette Taddeo's track record of running for a multitude of different offices demonstrates that she is motivated solely by her blind political ambition," National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Chris Pack said in a statement.

Taddeo told the Miami Herald last year that she would make up her mind early in 2015 about whether to run for office again -- and whether to run for Congress or some other position, such as county mayor.

December 04, 2014

David Rivera still hasn't reported how he paid for campaign robocalls

@PatriciaMazzei

Another financial reporting deadline has come and gone for this year's political candidates -- which means another deadline has come and gone in which David Rivera has yet to report how much he paid for automated telephone calls to voters.

The robocalls, featuring Rivera himself speaking in Spanish, were the only politicking Rivera did this summer after placing his short-lived campaign on hold. The Miami Republican briefly ran for his old congressional seat.

At the time, Rivera hadn't reported raising any money. That hasn't changed since. His Dec. 1 report continues to list $0 contributions.

Carlos Curbelo campaign explains financial reporting errors to Federal Election Commission

@PatriciaMazzei

U.S. Rep.-elect Carlos Curbelo's campaign responded this week to questions from the Federal Election Commission over more than $93,000 in omitted or mislabeled political contributions.

The FEC had sent the Miami Republican a pair notices last month identifying the problems in a two of his financial reports. The issues had first came to light when Curbelo amended one of them a few days before the Nov. 4 election.

In the response Curbelo filed Tuesday, the campaign explained that some contributions questioned by the FEC for being duplicates actually belonged to different individuals with the same name or address. The campaign also listed $52,875 in "corrupted data" initially misreported due to what the campaign called a "software issue" from switching accounting programs near Election Day. Some $42,000 from political organizations was mislabeled as coming from individuals.

Curbelo had laid out most of those changes in the Oct. 28 amendment to his Oct. 15 quarterly financial report, so the total amount of money he raised remains the same as on Oct. 28. That amendment raised eyebrows because so many political action committees had been omitted or mislabeled -- in a race where Rep. Joe Garcia, the incumbent Democrat, had made an issue out of the influx of outside dollars.

According to the Dec. 2 response, Curbelo's campaign corrected the labeling and totals from $51,000 from PACs and other groups, and $21,000 from individuals.

November 24, 2014

FEC asks Carlos Curbelo's campaign to explain finance report errors

@PatriciaMazzei

Carlos Curbelo was elected to U.S. Congress earlier this month, but his campaign work is not over.

The Federal Election Commission has asked the Miami Republican to respond to a series of questions for omitting or mislabeling more than $93,000 in campaign contributions, which Curbelo has blamed on a computer software problem.

The federal agency issued Curbelo’s campaign two notices last week — one of them 11 pages long — that, if not answered adequately, could result in audits or fines.

Nicole Rapanos, Curbelo’s campaign manager, said Monday that the campaign plans to respond as early as this week with a complete accounting of contributions and donors omitted or mislabeled.

“Once we get everything answered, we should be OK,” she said. “We’re not trying to hide anything.”

More here.

November 19, 2014

South Florida Dems to Obama: Venezuelans should be part of executive action on immigration

@PatriciaMazzei

Two South Florida Democratic members of Congress have penned a letter to President Obama asking him to specifically include Venezuelans in his planned executive action on immigration.

U.S. Reps. Joe Garcia of Miami and Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston, the Democratic National Committee chairwoman, wrote in the letter Tuesday that Obama should provide "administrative relief protections for thousands of Venezuelans who have fled Venezuela and are fearful of returning."

"Political and economic conditions in Venezuela have been declining for years, but now the Venezuelan people are facing a government that would rather repress and demonize its own citizens than engage in dialogue to address the serious problems facing the country," they said.

Any action could apply to Venezuelans who arrived in the U.S. before December 2011, the cutoff date for the Senate immigration-reform bill yet to be taken up by the House of Representatives, the letter says. Or Obama could authorize "delayed enforced departure," a protection similar to the one granted to people with Temporary Protected Status, or TPS.

"Their inclusion in administrative relief falls in line with the purpose of such action which should be to provide relief from deportation to those who have established lives and families in the U.S. and whose deportations would rip apart communities."

South Florida is home to the largest number of Venezuelans outside of the South American country -- including a large contingent in Wasserman Schultz's hometown, which is known as Westonzuela. Garcia, who lost reelection earlier this month to Republican Carlos Curbelo, has filed legislation to give Venezuelans special immigration status, but it has gone nowhere.

November 18, 2014

Miami TV station interviews Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s transgender son

@SteveRothaus

In 2010, the Miami Herald first reported that U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s daughter Amanda was living openly as Rodrigo, a transgender man and LGBT rights activist.

CBS4 News on Monday aired an interview with Ros-Lehtinen; her husband, former acting U.S. Attorney Dexter Lehtinen; and Rodrigo, now donor services coordinator for GLAAD.

From CBS4 reporter Jim DeFede:

Rodrigo Lehtinen grew up in a household grounded in Republican politics.

His mother, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, was the first Cuban-American elected to Congress and has served in the House for the last 25 years. His father, Dexter Lehtinen, is the former US Attorney for the Southern District of Florida who oversaw the indictment of Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega. His grandfather, Enrique Ros, was an old-time Cuban-American hardliner and author who railed against Castro until his death last year at the age of 89.

“I came from a family where politics was very much talked about openly, calmly with respect on a regular basis,” he said. “So engaging that type of conversation about political issues or things that might be controversial is not foreign in my family.”

Click here to watch the video.

--STEVE ROTHAUS

November 14, 2014

Carlos Curbelo makes NYT in first week in D.C.

via @nytimes

The New York Times followed a few newly elected members of Congress this week during their freshmen orientation -- including Miami Republican Carlos Curbelo, who is apparently hunting for Washington D.C. roommates.

There are housing arrangements to make (“I look forward to talking to other freshmen to see if there is anyone I can room with,” said Carlos Curbelo, a Republican from Florida), friendships to cultivate and new rules to learn, rooted in seniority: In the lottery for office space, freshmen pick last.

The story also notes that Curbelo, who defeated Democratic Rep. Joe Garcia, has been a political junkie since his youth at Miami's Belen Jesuit Preparatory School.

Mr. Curbelo’s parents are Cuban exiles. Now 34, he carried around a copy of Newt Gingrich’s “Contract With America” when he was 14. “I hope that doesn’t make me sound too nerdy,” he said.

Read the full story here.

November 05, 2014

FL-26 changes political party hands again

@PatriciaMazzei @cveiga

South Florida’s 26th congressional district lived up to its label as a swing seat Tuesday, changing political party hands for the second time in two years.

Florida lawmakers redrew the boundaries of the state’s southernmost district in 2012 so that it’s almost evenly split among registered Democrats (35 percent), Republicans (33 percent) and independents (32 percent).

Low turnout in Tuesday’s election, particularly among Democrats, benefited Carlos Curbelo, the Republican who ousted Democratic Rep. Joe Garcia of Miami. Garcia spent only one term in office, having defeated Republican David Rivera in 2012.

Granted, Garcia was tainted by campaign scandals. So was Rivera. But the back-to-back victories by opposing parties in the district suggest it could remain competitive for years to come.

On Wednesday, Curbelo said he’s not worried that the frequent turnover, depending on the composition of the electorate in a given election, could affect his future chances.

“If I work hard and do a good job for this district, and I represent the community with effectiveness, I think I’ll get another shot at it,” Curbelo said. “It is certainly too early to start thinking about the next election.”

More here.

November 04, 2014

GOP picks up South Florida seat: Carlos Curbelo defeats Miami Rep. Joe Garcia

@PatriciaMazzei @cveiga @dchangmiami

Carlos Curbelo flipped a South Florida congressional seat for the Republican Party on Tuesday, besting Miami Rep. Joe Garcia in a midterm election dominated by the GOP.

Garcia, a freshman Democrat, was undone in part by scandals, much like the Republican he defeated two years ago.

Curbelo, a Miami-Dade County school board member, led from the moment the first election results were posted through the end. He won the 26th congressional district, which spans Westchester to Key West, with 52 percent of the vote to Garcia’s 48 percent.

“Tonight begins the work of giving the people of Florida’s 26th congressional district the honest and effective representation we need,” Curbelo said.

More here.

Miami Rep. Joe Garcia talks policy -- and gives driving directions -- to West Kendall voters

@PatriciaMazzei

Miami Rep. Joe Garcia spent part of Election Day afternoon giving directions to would-be voters who were confused about where to vote.

They showed up at the West Kendall Regional Library, one of the county's largest precincts in the 2012 presidential election. Earlier this year, the Miami-Dade elections department redrew some precincts -- including those at the West Kendall library -- to make them smaller. The department says it notified those voters. 

But many of them either didn't receive a notification or didn't pay attention, because they kept getting turned away Tuesday by poll workers who printed out slips of paper listing their new, nearby polling places.

That left Garcia, the incumbent Democrat facing a strong challenge from Republican Carlos Curbelo, giving voters directions at the library parking lot.

"When you leave here, you cross the street, and it's right there on the left," he said in Spanish to a voter.

"Oh, so it's not by the Taco Bell," said the man. He identified himself to a reporter as Miguel Palacios, a 65-year-old registered Republican who called the situation frustration.

"This is very bad. I've always voted here. I wasn't notified," he said.

Garcia said about two-thirds of the people who walked into the polling place when he was there after 4 p.m. were sent somewhere else. 

"Do me a favor: Go in there and ask if you're in the right place," he told a woman as she walked in.

Garcia, holding a water bottle, hustled from one end of the parking lot to the other, trying to say hello to the voters who steadily trickled in. One woman and her son asked for a photograph with him. Another asked him about his position on immigration reform (he favors it and sponsored a stalled House bill on it). Another, who said he was a federal worker, asked him about across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration (he voted against).

"I voted for him," said 39-year-old Sandra Moore, a registered Democrat, who praised Garcia's visibility in the 26th congressional district. "He's done a lot that he said he would do. And he's active in the community."