April 15, 2016

UPDATED Miami congressional candidates say Carnival shouldn't cooperate with Cuban 'discrimination'

@PatriciaMazzei

Democrat Annette Taddeo weighed in earlier this week on the controversy that has gripped Miami politics: whether Carnival Corp. should sail to Cuba as planned, given that the Castro regime won't allow Cuban-born passengers to disembark the ship.

No, said Taddeo, who is running in Florida's 26th congressional district.

Here's the statement her campaign released Wednesday:

While I am supportive of the steps President Obama has taken to open diplomatic relations with Cuba, I recognize that there will be many issues to address and we cannot ignore our American values as we work through these issues. The current Cuban policy prohibiting Cuban-born Americans from entering the country by sea has now created a policy of discrimination on cruise lines traveling to Cuba. We should not allow the Cuban Government to decide which Americans get on a U.S. cruise ship.

This is not the first time a cruise line has been forced to deal with a country's bias towards an entire ethnic group. When Tunisia refused to allow Jewish passengers to disembark in their country, Norwegian Cruise Lines cut ties and stopped travel to Tunisia. I am hopeful the Cuban government will see the error in this policy and move quickly to remedy the discrimination it creates towards Cuban Americans. In the meantime, I encourage Carnival to follow the example set by Norwegian and refuse to cooperate with a policy that singles out and discriminates against one group of Americans. I agree with President Obama's focus on people-to-people engagement and Cuban Americans are people, too.

On Thursday, Taddeo wrote a letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew urging him to push Cuba to "see the error in this policy."

Taddeo is Colombian-American, not Cuban-American, But she has spent years living among Miami's Cuban exiles, and her primary opponent, former Rep. Joe Garcia, is a chief proponent of Obama's U.S.-Cuba engagement policy. The Republican incumbent, Rep. Carlos Curbelo, generally opposes it. (Both Garcia and Curbelo are sons of exiles.)

Curbelo tweeted in support of the Miami Herald column by Fabiola Santiago exposing the Cuban policy. He's against Carnival sailing under the existing Cuban policy.

UPDATE: Garcia tells the Herald he, too, thinks Carnival should not sail under existing Cuban policy:

"Discrimination is discrimination, and we should never tolerate governments who discriminate under the guise of policy for anyone, not for sexual orientation, race, creed, or national origin," Garcia said in a statement. "I support engaging Cuba, but our policy is simple. We are America. We should not enable discrimination here at home or in any corner of the globe."

Read Taddeo's letter to Lew:

Letter

In new bid for old seat, ex-Rep. Joe Garcia says he raked in $325K

@PatriciaMazzei

In his first six weeks as a candidate for his old congressional seat, former Rep. Joe Garcia of Miami said he raised $325,000 -- more than his Democratic opponent, Annette Taddeo, has collected in any three-month period since she began running a year ago.

Both are hoping for a shot to unseat freshman Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo in Florida's 26th congressional district, which spans Westchester to Key West.

"I announced my candidacy in February, because I couldn't sit by and watch Republicans like Carlos Curbelo dismantle access to healthcare and family planning for women, treat our immigrant community like second-class citizens and strike down environmental protections that keep our water clean and our natural treasures safe," Garcia said in a statement. "Today's numbers show the people of South Florida know I won't let them down."

Campaign-finance reports showing fundraising from Jan. 1 through March 31 are due by midnight to the Federal Election Commission. Garcia's campaign said he's got $315,000 cash on hand, after expenses.

Neither Curbelo nor Taddeo have announced their totals yet, though Curbelo, who has far more money in the bank, is expected to still lead the cash-on-hand race.

Taddeo's last report showed about $275,000 in fundraising, while Curbelo's showed about $450,000. Taddeo's strongest quarter was the one that ended last October; in that period, she collected more than $300,000, but that included a $75,000 loan to herself. That was Curbelo's slowest Curbelo; he brought in about $256,000.

March 09, 2016

UPDATED Miami congressman snubbed from White House meeting on Cuba

@PatriciaMazzei

U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo wanted in on the White House's upcoming Miami meeting with Cuban-American community leaders. 

No such luck.

Curbelo says he asked to attend Friday's get-together with Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes. But he was told the meeting will be "private."

"This White House works very hard at excluding Cuban-American representatives -- Republicans and Democrats alike -- from any meetings or discussions having to do with U.S.-Cuba policy," Curbelo said in a statement to the Miami Herald. "I've worked with the Administration on higher education reform, climate change, immigration, and other issues. However, on Cuba they shut out anyone who doesn't fully agree with them -- even those who represent our country's Cuban-American community. It doesn't make sense, and quite frankly, it seems petty."

Pete Boogaard, assistant press secretary for the National Security Council, said Rhodes and other senior administration officials have met "directly with members of Congress from both sides of the aisle."

"We will continue to make outreach to Congress a focus of our engagement, but during the limited time Mr. Rhodes has in Miami, he will meet with human rights and civil society advocates, faith leaders, young emerging leaders, and representatives from the private sector."

Former U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, the Democrat who lost to Curbelo in 2014 and hopes to challenge him again later this year, issued a campaign statement deriding Curbelo's complaint as "priceless."

"The person who has opposed every single one of this administration's initiatives on Cuba -- from family travel to remittances to normalization of migratory policy -- now wants a photo op. The Obama administration has been in contact with Cubans both on the island and in Miami, as well as with leaders of the civic, business, art and political communities. If there is someone who is out of touch with the people in Cuba and, in particular, South Florida, it is Mr. Curbelo."

Curbelo was snubbed by the White House last year: It denied him an Air Force One seat to a President Barack Obama town hall on immigration at Florida International University, in Curbelo's congressional district. The White House later made nice with Curbelo, and he got to fly with the president a few months later on a trip to the Florida Everglades.

Miami Dade College announced Wednesday that, as part of his visit, Rhodes will attend a town meeting with young Cuban Americans at downtown Miami's Wolfson Campus. The event is co-sponsored by Roots of Hope, a nonprofit network of Cuban-American college students and professionals. Rhodes will hold a news conference afterward.

UPDATE: Rhodes telephoned Curbelo on Wednesday night, according to the congressman. They spoke for about half an hour and had a "very productive conversation."

This post has been updated.

February 17, 2016

Miami politicians react to Obama's planned visit to Cuba

@PatriciaMazzei

News of President Barack Obama's impending trip to Cuba -- in March, sources told the Miami Herald -- prompted quick backlash from Miami politicians, many of them of Cuban descent.

Here's reaction, which we will update as it comes in:

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who is running for president

 

Former Gov. Jeb Bush, who is running for president

 

Continue reading "Miami politicians react to Obama's planned visit to Cuba" »

Joe Garcia's internal poll shows him leading Annette Taddeo

An internal poll done by Joe Garcia's Congressional campaign shows him leading Democratic rival Annette Taddeo 34-24.

The poll was done by the Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling firm Jan. 15-18 of 441 Democratic voters in the district which spans parts of Miami-Dade and Monroe counties.

"The poll is a reflection of the support Joe has received since entering the race," said Juan Penalosa, an advisor for the Garcia campaign. "Joe is leading by large margins across the board, including a 15 point lead among women."  

Taddeo's campaign manager Shaun Daniels said: "Whether on election day in 2014 or in his own polling, Joe Garcia just can’t seem to get to 50%. This poll is great news for the Taddeo Campaign. It is not surprising that a former incumbent holds a slight lead.”

We'll note that internal polls come with a large grain of salt -- particularly when they are done about seven months before the primary. But due to redistricting, District 26 leans more left than in the past and this could be the hottest Congressional primary contest in South Florida.

This poll previously reported by Politico.

February 03, 2016

Annette Taddeo weighs in on Joe Garcia running against her for Congress

@PatriciaMazzei

Here's what Annette Taddeo had to say about former U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia jumping into the Democratic primary for his old congressional seat -- where Taddeo is already running.

Our South Florida families, workers and small business owners deserve a voice in Washington who will always speak for them.  I began this race for Congress nearly a year ago because as a mother and small business owner, I understand the needs of our communities and I want to be their voice and fight for them every single day.

As a member of Congress I will fight to raise the minimum wage, bring jobs back to our communities, ensure equal pay for women and to strengthen our schools. This is what our communities deserve, but sadly the 26th District has instead endured a series of politicians who've put self-interest first, acted unethically, and at times even acted illegally.  

It’s time to turn a new page in South Florida.  The communities of South Florida want an advocate whose only interest is helping our diverse neighborhoods and families thrive. We deserve a leader who will build on Obamacare, not repeal it.  Defend Planned Parenthood, not defund it.  Reject the anti-immigrant Party of Trump, not champion it.  We deserve a candidate who will bring South Florida’s values to Washington, not become part of the problem. That’s why I’m running and it’s why I’ve been so proud to receive the endorsements of individuals, businesses, unions and elected leaders across the 26th District.

Joe Garcia wants his old Miami seat in Congress back

@PatriciaMazzei

He’s made up his mind: Former U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia will run for Congress again this year, the Miami Democrat announced Wednesday. He will seek his old seat, which has been redrawn to now include more Democrats.

“We did great things when we were in Congress and I want to continue work on the issues that matter to South Florida, because we deserve better,” Garcia said in a statement to the Miami Herald. “We deserve quality jobs that pay a living wage, lower college tuition, action on climate change, and comprehensive immigration reform.”

Garcia lost his swing Westchester-to-Key West seat in an off-year election when fewer Democrats go to the polls. Running in a presidential year — and in a redrawn district that comfortably favored President Barack Obama in 2012 — Garcia hopes to have better luck, assuming he wins the primary.

Another Democrat, Annette Taddeo, who was Charlie Crist’s running mate in the 2014 Florida governor’s race, is already in the race.

More here.

January 26, 2016

Miami Rep. Carlos Curbelo says he raised $450K and has $1.5M on hand

@PatriciaMazzei

Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo's campaign says it raked in nearly half a million dollars in the last three months of 2015 for his contested reelection campaign.

He raised $459,000 and has $1.51 cash on hand, campaign spokeswoman Nicole Rapanos told the Miami Herald. She said 45 percent of donations "came from South Floridians contributing $200 or less."

"We are confident that we will have ample resources to share Carlos' record of effective, bipartisan work in Congress on behalf of the people of South Dade and the Florida Keys," she said in a statement. Curbelo has been among the most prolific freshman Republican fundraisers.

Curbelo, who represents Westchester to Key West, is running in a redrawn swing district that now favors Democrats by a wider margin than when he ousted Democrat Joe Garcia in 2014. Garcia sounds like he wants to run again.

Democrat Annette Taddeo, who has lagged behind the incumbent's fundraising so far, has the party's backing in Washington D.C. She'll have to report her latest contributions by the end of the week; several House Democrats hosted fundraisers for her before the quarter ended Dec. 31. She has another one scheduled for Saturday -- in the new fundraising period -- with Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Ben Ray Luján on Miami Beach.

 Andrew Korge, son of Hillary Clinton donor Chris Korge, has said he intends to seek the seat as well.

 

January 22, 2016

Joe Garcia says he'll decide on Miami congressional run in next week

@PatriciaMazzei

Former U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia told the Miami Herald on Friday that he expects to make up his mind in the next week about whether to run for his old Miami congressional seat.

"I'm seriously considering it. The polls look very good for me," he said. "I'm going to make a decision in the next few days, in the next week."

The Democrat has been mulling a run for months. Some of his former aides -- and now Garcia himself -- have been working the phones to reach activists, donors and party leaders on what a campaign could look like.

A couple of markers suggested to party insiders that Garcia was seriously contemplating another campaign. The first was that the statute of limitations expired in early November in a federal investigation that led to the conviction of Garcia's former political adviser and chief of staff -- which meant Garcia himself could campaign without the shadow of the feds hanging over him. 

The second was that Garcia left his job at a Miami Beach investment bank in December, a move that was seen as potential preparation for a candidacy. He'd held the job for less than a year; Garcia said he's now working as an independent consultant.

One Democrat, Annette Taddeo, is already running, and another one, Andrew Korge, intends to seek the 26th district as well. It's currently represented by Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo, who ousted Garcia in 2014. Since then, the district has been redrawn to benefit Democrats.

January 11, 2016

Joe Garcia spotted in D.C., but not because he's running for Congress (at least, not yet)

@PatriciaMazzei

Former U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia fuels speculation that he wants to run for his old Miami-based seat every time he visits Washington D.C. -- as he did Monday.

Garcia was spotted at a Capitol Hill bar near the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee offices, where he was meeting with former staffers and friends. But he says he wasn't in town to meet party leaders about launching a candidacy.

Instead, Garcia was a panelist at a National Press Club talk led by New York Times columnist Tom Friedman. The discussion was about the impact of the recently signed Paris climate deal on electric utilities. Garcia is a former chairman of the Florida Public Service Commission.

Garcia has said he's thinking of running again for Florida's 26th district, a seat now held by Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo.

Here's a selfie Garcia took at the Bullfeathers bar. He sent it to the Miami Herald with permission to post.

IMG_3247

This post has been updated.