November 17, 2017

Carlos Curbelo's district now rated as "toss up" after tax bill passes the House

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@alextdaugherty

Miami Rep. Carlos Curbelo represents the most pro-Hillary Clinton district in the country currently held by a Republican running for reelection in 2018, and he could be in trouble if Democrats make nationwide gains next year. 

On Friday, the Cook Political Report changed Curbelo's reelection rating from "lean Republican" to "toss up" a day after the House passed an overhaul of the nation's tax code that Curbelo supports. 

"Curbelo impressed in 2016, winning a second term by 12 points while Hillary Clinton carried this 69 percent Latino district by 16 points," Cook editor Dave Wasserman wrote. "But Curbelo also had the luxury of running against Democrat Joe Garcia, who was disgraced by an absentee ballot scandal. And despite his push for a bipartisan immigration reform bill, Curbelo's recent votes in favor of the GOP's healthcare and tax bills give Democrats fodder to tie him to Trump." 

Wasserman also mentioned Democratic challenger Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, noting that she captured 46 percent of the vote against sitting state Sen. Anitere Flores in 2016. Flores' district closely mirrors Curbelo's Miami-to-Key West seat. 

"She raised $177,000 last quarter and has a long way to catch up to Curbelo's $1.3 million, but Democrats are encouraged that they flipped a nearby state senate district in a September special election," Wasserman said. "No Republican running for reelection represents a more pro-Clinton district than Curbelo. He's in for another tough race." 

Nationwide, Wasserman rates 17 Republican-held seats as "toss ups" compared to four Democratic-held seats. Retiring Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen's open seat, in a Miami district that voted for Clinton by a larger margin than Curbelo's, is rated as "lean Democratic." 

Democrats must win 24 seats nationwide in the 2018 elections to gain a majority in the House of Representatives. 

 

October 11, 2017

Mercury firm hires former Miami Rep. Joe Garcia

@PatriciaMazzei

Former Miami Democratic Rep. Joe Garcia has landed a job at Mercury, the public strategy firm that already employs a number of South Florida political campaign veterans.

Garcia was named Mercury co-chairman based in Miami, the firm announced Wednesday.

“I am thrilled to join Mercury, known across the country for their exceptional work across the public affairs, policy and political arenas,” Garcia said in a statement. “I look forward to growing the Mercury brand in Miami, and bringing my expertise to help clients achieve success.”

Garcia joins Ashley Walker, former President Obama's Florida campaign manager; Juan Peñalosa, Garcia's former congressional campaign adviser, and several Republicans, including Brian Swensen and Danielle Alvarez.

Garcia lost his bid to regain his old seat last year against Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo.

September 06, 2017

Rubio voted against Sandy aid in 2013. Now he wants money for Irma.

Marco Rubio

@alextdaugherty 

Florida Sens. Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson urged Congress to approve additional funds for disaster relief as Hurricane Irma threatens Miami, a bipartisan ritual for politicians with constituents facing hardship from a major storm.

But in 2013, Rubio was one of 36 Republican senators who voted against a Hurricane Sandy relief bill for New Jersey and New York, and now his South Florida colleagues hope he has learned a lesson.

“You can be a fiscal conservative until it hits you and your community and then you have a different point of view,” said Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

Rubio in 2013 argued that the $60 billion bill for Sandy relief, which passed after months of delays, was filled with unnecessary spending.

“The Hurricane Sandy supplemental bill goes far beyond emergency relief to impacted victims and communities, which is why I voted no on final passage,” Rubio said in a 2012 statement. “The current spending bill goes far beyond emergency relief and all efforts to strip the bill of unrelated pork are being blocked.”
 
He was the only member of Congress who represented Miami-Dade County to vote against the bill. Nelson, Republican Reps. Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart, former Democratic Rep. Joe Garcia and Democratic Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Frederica Wilson all voted in favor of the Sandy bill, which passed after a minority of Republicans joined Democrats.
 
Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo, who came to Congress after the Sandy vote, described the decision by some Republicans to vote against Sandy relief as “horrible.”

“I’m sure a lot of them are regretting it today,” Curbelo said of the Sandy vote. “My message is, you could be next. When a significant number of Americans are suffering due to a natural disaster, we need to come together as a country and we’re really worried about spending around here, we should look at our entitlement programs, not refuse to help people who are homeless and lacking food.”

On Wednesday, Rubio and Nelson issued a joint letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, urging Congress to include additional funds for Irma relief in the spending package that lawmakers are preparing to help Texas recover from Harvey.

“As Floridians are preparing for one of the worst storms on record, they need to know that the federal government is both ready and willing to direct the necessary resources needed to help them in the recovery process,” Rubio and Nelson wrote. “As such, we strongly urge you to include additional funding in the Hurricane Harvey aid package to account for the additional costs FEMA will likely incur responding to Hurricane Irma.”

Read more here. 

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."