Carlos Curbelo, a longtime political insider and former aide to a U.S. senator, won a decisive Republican primary victory Tuesday to run for Congress himself.
He received 47 percent of the vote in a field of five candidates that included a scandal-plagued former congressman vying for his old seat. Ex-U.S. Rep. David Rivera came in fourth place.
Curbelo, a Miami-Dade School Board member, now faces the far more difficult task of running against incumbent Joe Garcia, a Democrat who was elected two years ago to represent the swing 26th congressional district that extends from Westchester to Key West.
The closely watched race among Republicans and Democrats nationwide is considered a tossup. Republicans hope to flip it to their column come the Nov. 4 general election.
“I will work hard to honor your trust,” Curbelo told campaign supporters gathered Tuesday night at Killian Palms in Kendall. “I will serve with honor and integrity. We live in a community that needs new leaders.”