November 09, 2016

Big win over Garcia keeps Curbelo in Congress

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via @AndresViglucci @glenngarvin @Chabelih

Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo handily held onto his seat on Tuesday in one of the most closely watched congressional races in the country after turning back a challenge from the Democrat he unseated two years ago, Joe Garcia.

With most of the vote counted, Curbelo was ahead by 12 points in the battleground 26th Congressional District, which sprawls from Westchester to Key West, despite a redrawing that pushed its electoral make-up to the left after the Republican ousted Garcia in 2014. The new district’s demographics put the incumbent, who fashioned himself as one of a dwindling species — a moderate Republican — at something of a disadvantage.

But Curbelo carefully threaded the political needle, pointedly repudiating GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, while bolstering his credentials with conservative Cuban Americans in the ethnically and politically diverse district by criticizing Garcia, a former head of the Cuban American National Foundation, for his support of President Barack Obama’s rapprochement with Cuba.

Curbelo, who at one point compared Trump to the late Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chávez, also said he would not vote for Democrat Hillary Clinton, but never publicly revealed his presidential vote despite persistent goading from Garcia.

More here.

Photo credit: Carl Juste, Miami Herald

November 04, 2016

Obama records robocall for Garcia

@PatriciaMazzei

That voice in automated calls dropping Friday in Florida's 26th congressional district? President Barack Obama.

Obama recorded a robocall for Democrat Joe Garcia, who is trying to unseat Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo.

"His, this is Barack Obama, calling on behalf of my friend Joe Garcia," the president says on the call.

Obama endorsed Garcia last week, and Garcia got to speak Thursday at Florida International University -- which is in the 26th district -- before the president's rally for Hillary Clinton.

In the call, Obama urges voters to vote in person early or on Election Day -- or to return their mail ballot.

The president has also recorded calls for several state legislative candidates.

October 28, 2016

Biden endorses Garcia for Congress

@PatriciaMazzei

Following in the footsteps of President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden on Friday endorsed Joe Garcia, giving the Miami Democrat more high-profile support in his contested race for Congress.

"As a former Congressman, Joe fought to pass comprehensive immigration reform, make college more affordable, and protect access to health care for all," Biden said in a statement provided by Garcia's campaign. "Hardworking Floridians and their families can count on Joe to continue fighting for them in Congress and to keep moving Florida and our country forward."

Obama backed Garcia on Monday. He's trying to unseat Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo, a freshman representing Florida's 26th district. Neither Obama nor Biden have scheduled any campaign appearances with Garcia.

"There are few people who advocate for working and middle class families more passionately than Vice President Joe Biden, so I’m honored to have his support," Garcia said in a statement.

October 25, 2016

DCCC compares Curbelo to Trump in new TV ad

@PatriciaMazzei

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee keeps trying to link Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo to Donald Trump, even if Curbelo isn't backing him for president.

In a new TV ad, the DCCC compares Curbelo to Trump on offshore oil drilling, immigration and Social Security. Curbelo is being challenged by Democrat Joe Garcia.

"Curbelo supports drilling offshore -- just like Trump," the ad says. "Curbelo's been sending campaign cash to help anti-immigrant politicians.... Carlos Curbelo calls Social Security a 'Ponzi scheme.' You know who else says that? Donald Trump."

The ad is a mash-up of past DCCC Curbelo ads, including one PolitiFact Florida found misleading on the oil-drilling claim. Curbelo asked TV stations to yank the ad as a result.

As for funding other politicians, Curbelo created a committee he said would support other Republicans who back immigration reform. Some of the committee's beneficiaries, however, have sounded less than eager to adopt reforms, though Curbelo insists they're privately open to at least talking about it.

Curbelo and Trump have both called Social Security a Ponzi scheme.

'Scandals. Corruption. Convictions': House GOP-backed super PAC debuts anti-Garcia ad

@PatriciaMazzei

Democrat Joe Garcia gets a dramatic, black-and-white treatment in a new attack ad by a House Republican super PAC.

The ad, to begin airing Tuesday, refers to the convictions of Garcia's former chief of staff in a pair of campaign-related cases.

"Scandals. Corruption. Convictions," the ad says. "We can't let Joe Garcia run his scheme on us again."

Paying for the political commercial is Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC backed by the House GOP caucus. It's spending $1.4 million to try to help Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo hold on to the swing 26th district. The super PAC originally thought its campaign would cost $1.7 million, but the media buy was a bit less costly than expected.)

"Joe Garcia has spent more time answering for scandals, corruption, and convictions than standing up for Floridians," Congressional Leadership Fund spokeswoman Ruth Guerra said in a statement. "Floridians have had enough of Joe Garcia's schemes. That's why they've rejected him once, and they’ll do it again."

Garcia has repeatedly noted that he was never charged with any wrongdoing.

October 24, 2016

David Rivera's latest television ad: Blame it all on Joe Garcia

Garcia Rivera adIn his latest ad attempting to discredit his Democratic opponent, David Rivera is now pinning the blame on his longtime foe, former  Democratic Congressman Joe Garcia, accusing him of "obsessive attacks against David Rivera." The ad inexplicably also offers up a subliminal message, showing a logo for Granma, the Cuban government paper.

Garcia defeated Rivera, who was hoping to be re-elected to Congress in 2012. Garcia then lost the seat to Carlos Curbelo, a Republican, in 2014. Curbelo and Garcia are now in a re-match.  

Rivera's ad is being run on Spanish language television and features his discredited claim against Robert Asencio, his Democratic opponent in the House District 118 race. Asencio, an army veteran and 26-year member of the Miami Dade Schools police department, is 'a criminal,'' the ad claims, referring to unsubstantiated and dropped complaint from the parent of a child who was disciplined on a school bus in 2003.

The school district has said Asencio did nothing wrong, and the local chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police has withdrawn its endorsement of Rivera for "running a false and defamatory campaign against career public servant and distinguished police officer Robert Asencio." 

Here's the script from the misleading Rivera ad:

"Joe Garcia's allies continue their obsessive attacks against David Rivera. Now their pal Robert Asencio wants to imitate Garcia with his lies and false attacks against David Rivera. Maybe he does it because Asencio has a police record for physically abusing a boy and is now under federal investigation of other crimes.
"Go to the website "Asencio is a criminal.com" and tell Robert Asencio to explain his crimes against children. Say no to Robert Asencio."  Download IMG_2284

 

Obama endorses Joe Garcia for Congress

@PatriciaMazzei

President Barack Obama endorsed Democrat Joe Garcia for Congress in Florida's competitive 26th district, Garcia's campaign announced in a statement Monday.

"Over the last eight years, we've made tremendous strides towards making our nation safer, stronger, and fairer, but it's clear that to continue this progress, we need to send more commonsense leaders like Joe back to Congress to get things done for the middle class," Obama said.

"Joe is a champion for South Florida families and isn't afraid to take on the tough fights, like defending a woman's right to make her own healthcare decisions, protecting Social Security and Medicare, making sure we keep our sacred promises to our nation's veterans and their families, and addressing the crushing burden of student loan debt felt by so many Florida students and families."

Over the last few days, the president has waded into down-ballot Democratic races, in a coordinated effort with Hillary Clinton's campaign to win more seats in Congress and state legislatures. Obama tore into U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio at a Clinton rally in Miami Gardens last week, urging voters to choose Democrat Patrick Murphy instead. But the president didn't mention Garcia, who was at the rally. Garcia didn't have a speaking role, either, but his campaign says he will get to say something Monday ahead of a Tim Kaine rally at Florida International University. Garcia is trying to unseat freshman Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo.

"Barack Obama has spent the past eight years doing the right thing," Garcia said in a statement about the president's endorsement. "In Washington I'll work to expand on Obama's vision for our country so that every South Floridian can get ahead and stay ahead."

October 23, 2016

Carlos Curbelo, Joe Garcia and the fight for women voters

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@NewsbySmiley @PatriciaMazzei

For months, Joe Garcia and national Democrats have relentlessly cast Miami Rep. Carlos Curbelo as a Donald Trump Republican — or worse — arguing that votes the freshman Curbelo has taken with the House GOP caucus make his actions more serious than Trump’s words.

In a debate televised Sunday, Curbelo tried to turn the tables — and compared Garcia to Trump.

“I respect women, and you don’t,” Curbelo shot at Garcia, pointing a finger at him during WPLG-ABC 10’s “This Week in South Florida.”

At issue was a secretly recorded tape last month that caught Garcia characterizing Hillary Clinton as sexually unappealing — which host Michael Putney played on air. That tape came out nearly a month before The Washington Post released a 2005 “Access Hollywood” recording showing Trump bragging about forcing himself on women.

“I said something stupid,” Garcia conceded. But, he added about Curbelo: “Everything he just said is completely false.”

More here.

October 21, 2016

Two debates remain between Garcia, Curbelo, after last-minute addition

006 CURBELO GARCIA DEBATE D
@PatriciaMazzei

Voters in Florida's swing 26th congressional district will have two more chance to watch Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo debate Democratic challenger Joe Garcia on TV -- one in English and one in Spanish.

An English-language debate on WPLG-ABC 10 that was taped Friday will air Sunday. A Spanish-language debate on WJAN-América TeVé will take place Nov. 1, a week before Election Day, when thousands of ballots will have already been cast.

The two campaigns have been unable to agree to any other exchanges, despite a flurry of invitations from local stations.

Garcia has said no -- or not responded -- to invitations from WSCV-Telemundo 51 and WLTV-Univision 23, both of which Curbelo accepted. Curbelo chose a one-on-one interview -- rather than a debate -- on WPBS and did not confirm a date with WSBS-Mega TV. Garcia said yes to both.

The League of Women Voters invited both candidates to a debate. Garcia said yes and was told it would air locally on C-SPAN and WLRN radio. Curbelo said no but wasn't told the debate would be televised, according to his campaign. The League of Women Voters did not respond to requests from the Miami Herald.

Almost all of the invitations were also in Spanish. Garcia and Curbelo have faced off once in English, at their alma mater, Belen Jesuit Preparatory School, but that debate wasn't televised -- despite being moderated by national ABC News reporter Tom Llamas, a fellow Belen alumnus. The two candidates also appeared in a Key West forum Monday that was live-streamed online.

Both campaigns have pointed fingers about the lack of debate consensus, with Joanna Rodriguez, a Curbelo spokeswoman, called Garcia "desperate to hide" from Spanish-speaking voters after Garcia turned down Univision and Telemundo, the most-watched Spanish-language stations.

"One Spanish debate on a cable channel is a disservice to the voters of this district who deserve a quality debate between the candidates," she said.

"I'm sure both Carlos' camp and ours agree that it's impossible to accept every invite," Garcia spokesman Javier Hernandez said. The Garcia camp called out Curbelo on Thursday for not attending a Kendall Federation of Homeowner Associations forum that he turned down after trying to find a different date. Curbelo had already accepted an invite to meet with the local Disabled American Veterans chapter.

Curbelo might benefit most from more TV time, despite having more campaign money and political ads already on air. He was already vulnerable in the Democratic-leaning district before Donald Trump. Republicans fear Trump's candidacy could hurt down-ballot candidates, particularly for the U.S. House. For Garcia, it might be enough to ride Hillary Clinton's electoral coattails.

Both Garcia and Curbelo are Cuban American -- and bilingual.

This post and its headline have been updated with news that Curbelo and Garcia taped the WPLG-ABC 10 debate.

Photo credit: David Santiago, el Nuevo Herald

October 20, 2016

Prominent gay-rights group backs Joe Garcia against Curbelo

NP-JoeGarcia-LBGT-SAVE-102016-006 Joe Garcia DS

@jamesmartinrose

A key LBGT organization in South Florida on Thursday endorsed Joe Garcia in his bid to win back from Rep. Carlos Curbelo the House seat that the Miami Republican wrested from him two years ago.

The Miami-based SAVE group, formed in 1993, said it was supporting the Miami Democrat because of his work advocating equality.

"During his term as congressman, Joe served South Florida's LGBTQ community admirably, garnering SAVE's Champion of Equality Award in 2013 for his sponsorship of the Federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act and his efforts to protect LBGT immigration rights," SAVE said in a statement.

Long before joining the House in January 2013, the group noted that Garcia had led the Cuban American National Foundation, which he then headed, in opposing the repeal of Miami-Dade's human-rights ordinance.

Once in Congress, Garcia served as vice chairman of the LGBT Equality Caucus. He helped pass bipartisan legislation reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, which extended protects against rape and domestic violence to members of the LBGT community.

"One of my guiding principles is that every person should be treated equally," Garcia said Thursday. "That's why I'm honored that SAVE would recognize my work in support of the LGBTQ community."

SAVE's endorsement of Garcia came six days after Log Cabin Republicans, an influential GOP gay-rights group, endorsed Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Carlos Curbelo of South Florida in their re-election races, along with five other incumbent lawmakers from across the country.