August 30, 2016

Garcia wins squeaker over Taddeo, setting rematch against Curbelo

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@PatriciaMazzei

Former U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia held off a political surge Tuesday by former friend and political ally Annette Taddeo to win the Democratic primary for Florida’s 26th congressional district, setting up a rancorous rematch against Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo, who ousted Garcia from office two years ago.

“The campaign starts here,” Garcia said as he celebrated at a La Carreta Cuban restaurant in West Kendall. “Talking about the issues that matter to the people of Florida, clean water, the Zika virus, guns, and most of all, better jobs for our families.”

Garcia eked out a victory against Taddeo by 51-49 percent, according to unofficial Florida election results — even though he was outspent by about 4-to-1 by Taddeo, who raised more than twice as much as Garcia and had the political and financial support of the national Democratic Party.

Photo credit: David Santiago, el Nuevo Herald

August 29, 2016

What you need to know for Tuesday’s primary election

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@alextdaugherty and @doug_hanks

Planning to vote in Tuesday’s primary election? We’ve provided answers to a list of frequently asked questions.

Numerous races are on the ballot, notably the election for Miami-Dade County mayor, along with Republican and Democratic primaries for U.S. Senate. Various state legislative, school board, county commission and judicial seats are also up for grabs in Miami-Dade and Broward.

I’m not a registered Republican or Democrat. Should I bother to vote?

For some offices, like U.S. Senate and Congress, only registered members of a specific party may vote. But in Miami-Dade County, all registered voters can cast a ballot for mayor, school board, county commissioner and judge. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, a runoff election will be held in November for the top two finishers.

In Broward, independents can vote in non-partisan races, including contests for judge, state attorney and school board. Voters in both counties are also voting on a constitutional amendment about solar energy.

So is the mayor’s race in Miami-Dade ending Tuesday or not?

That depends. If one candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, the race ends. If not, the race heads for a November run-off on Election Day between the top two finishers.

That’s just for the mayor’s race?

No, that’s the rule for all non-partisan primaries, which is how most county-level and city-level races are decided. So school board races, judge races and other local posts could wind up on the November ballot if no winner is declared Tuesday.

What about the races for Miami-Dade County Commission?

Those three races would be eligible for a run-off, except each contest only has two candidates. A run-off is only a possibility with more than two candidates.

August 23, 2016

Emily's List flexes muscle in favor of Annette Taddeo--and against Joe Garcia

Taddeo Garcia

@alextdaugherty

A national political organization that helps progressive women win elections is throwing some weight around in a Miami congressional race, spending thousands on mailers for Democratic candidate Annette Taddeo -- and against her primary rival, former U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia

A political action committee dubbed Women Vote!, which receives support from Emily's List, spent $11,163 on mailers against Garcia while spending about half that amount -- $5,751 -- on mailers supporting Taddeo. Both of the expenditures occurred on Aug. 18, Federal Elections Commission records show.

The anti-Garcia mailer hits the former representative over his votes on student loan rates and and connections to for-profit colleges. A stock photo of a student is placed next to an unattributed quote that reads "Joe Garcia took thousands of dollars from a for-profit college interest that scammed students, then voted to raise student loan interest rates. He had his chance and let us down." 

"I guess their campaign couldn’t find any actual South Florida students to falsely attack Joe," said Garcia spokesman Javier Hernandez in a statement. "Not a surprise, Joe has worked hard to make college affordable for all families."

The mailer also says Garcia "took thousands of dollars from a for-profit college interest that scammed students, then voted to raise student loan interest rates" and goes on to state that Taddeo will work towards making college more affordable and protecting women's health, policy positions that Emily's List supports.

The pro-Taddeo mailer highlights her background, saying she "put herself through college and started a small business while raising a family." 

Garcia and Taddeo will face off on Aug. 30 for the right to take on incumbent Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo.

Here is the anti-Garcia mailer: 

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Here is the pro-Taddeo mailer: 
 
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August 22, 2016

Annette Taddeo flubs claim of who paid for oppo research on Joe Garcia. It was her -- not the DCCC

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@PatriciaMazzei

Ever since hackers published a cache of internal Democratic Party memos that painted him in a negative light, former U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia has hammered primary rival Annette Taddeo of overzealous probing into his life for political gain.

In a televised debate Sunday, Taddeo claimed it was the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee that commissioned a 76-page opposition-research tome on Garcia.

"Every campaign does opposition research, and if you did some, I suspect that that's in the norm," moderator Michael Putney, of WPLG-ABC 10's "This Week in South Florida," began. "Now Mr. Garcia alleges that you did a huge amount of opposition research, including things which are kind of out of bounds. Did you?"

"No," Taddeo said. "I have not, actually, and um, you know, the research was actually done by the party."

"The Democratic Party?" Putney asked incredulously.

"Yes!" she said. "The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee."

Wrong.

It was Taddeo's own campaign that paid Spiros Consulting for the Garcia research. Campaign finance reports show she paid Spiros $8,250 in January and $1,375 in March -- a total of $9,625.

Garcia, for his part, has also paid for opposition research. His finance reports show a $6,000 payment to The Maccabee Group in June. But his campaign says that research was on Garcia himself -- a refresher on his past votes and statements -- and not on Taddeo.

An earlier version of this post misstated that Garcia's campaign spending was on opposition research on Taddeo.

Photo credit: Emily Michot, Miami Herald staff

Joe Garcia declines to explain post-debate outburst

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@PatriciaMazzei

In an apparent attempt to turn the page on an embarrassing incident, former U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia declined in an interview aired over the weekend to offer any details on his outburst last week at a Spanish-language TV debate moderator.

"I've been friends with these people for a long time," the Miami Democrat told "Al Punto Florida" in an interview aired Sunday. "In all these things, they as well as I have said what happened."

In fact, neither side has explained the incident, which was overheard by several América TeVé employees and related to the Miami Herald. Garcia wouldn't comment to the Herald last week. His spokesman, Javier Hernandez, insisted nothing had happened -- though it's clear from Garcia's response to "Al Punto Florida" that something did.

After a televised debate against primary rival Annette Taddeo, Garcia lashed out about perceived biased in the questions he was asked. During the heated argument, Garcia at one point used the insult "comemierda."

Garcia did reiterate to anchor Ambrosio Hernandez on "Al Punto Florida" that he apologized for using the wrong name last week for debate anchor Felix Guillermo. Garcia had repeatedly called him "Ricardo."

"But that's all that happened," he said.

Photo credit: Emily Michot, Miami Herald staff

The money race in Florida's bruising 26th congressional district

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@PatriciaMazzei

Former U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia raised about $69,000 for his congressional campaign in the past six weeks, which is less than half of what his Democratic primary opponent, Annette Taddeo, collected in the same period.

Garcia, however, has more money in the bank: about $306,000, compared to Taddeo's about $248,000. She has spent far more than Garcia, putting out TV ads and a slew of mailed fliers, including ones attacking the former congressman. She reported a nearly $151,000 haul from July 1-Aug. 18; Taddeo has the backing of national Democrats, including the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

The bruising primary between the former friends can only benefit Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo, who has no Aug. 30 primary rival. His latest campaign-finance report shows about $80,000 in contributions -- and nearly $2 million cash in the bank, waiting for the Nov. 8 general election.

Photo credit: Emily Michot, Miami Herald staff

August 18, 2016

Taddeo camp touts latest fundraising total

Taddeo

@alextdaugherty

Annette Taddeo and Joe Garcia are in the final stages of a bitter Democratic primary campaign, and the Taddeo camp released their most recent fundraising numbers on Thursday afternoon. 

The Taddeo campaign says she raised $150,970 in a just over a month since the last reporting deadline, which was June 30. Taddeo’s campaign reported $250,000 in cash on hand as of August 18.

“I’m humbled by the incredible support from the thousands of Floridians who have joined our campaign,” Taddeo said in a statement. “This month’s fundraising surge shows we have the momentum and our campaign will continue to give South Floridians a real chance to truly end the divisive politics of Donald Trump.”

Taddeo and Garcia face off in the Aug. 30 primary for the right to challenge incumbent Republican Carlos Curbelo in the November election.

Garcia's fundraising numbers are due by the end of the week.

August 16, 2016

The Spanish-language TV debate ended. Then Joe Garcia lashed out at the moderator

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@PatriciaMazzei

Former U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia was fuming when the cameras stopped rolling Monday night at the end of his first televised debate against Miami Democratic primary opponent Annette Taddeo.

Angered over what he perceived as bias against him, Garcia stepped into a hallway just outside the recording studio of Spanish-language station América TeVé and lashed out — loudly — at moderator Felix Guillermo and, later, at station manager Miguel Cossio, according to several people who overheard the heated argument.

Two people said they heard Garcia say “comemierda,” a common local insult usually taken to mean “fool” or “jackass,” though it literally translates to “shit-eater.” On Tuesday afternoon, Cossio and Guillermo vehemently denied to the Miami Herald that Garcia used the word against either of them.

“I wouldn’t have allowed that,” Cossio said. “He never insulted me,” Guillermo said.

The exchange lasted a few minutes, according to the people who heard it, with Garcia unleashing his frustration after a debate he apparently felt did not go well. América TeVé employees appeared surprised and embarrassed by the dust-up — especially because Taddeo still hadn’t left the station.

Guillermo dismissed the incident as an “internal” matter. “Nothing happened,” he told the Herald on Tuesday morning.

More here.

Photo credit: Emily Michot, Miami Herald staff

August 15, 2016

Leaked Democratic Party documents paint Joe Garcia in a negative light

Annette Taddeo and Joe Garcia speak to the Miami Herald editorial board. They’re running in the Democratic primary for Florida’s 26th congressional district.

 

@alextdaugherty 

An anonymous hacker believed to have connections with the Russian government released more stolen documents Monday afternoon detailing campaign strategy for Democrats in certain Florida congressional districts -- including Miami's most competitive race.

"Here are the DCCC docs on Florida: reports, memos, briefings, dossiers, etc," hacker Guccifer 2 wrote. "You can have a look at who you are going to elect now. It may seem the congressional primaries are also becoming a farce."

The stolen documents, released via a WordPress website, include strategy memos on Florida's 26th District, where Democrats Joe Garcia and Annette Taddeo are waging a primary campaign to challenge Republican Carlos Curbelo.

Garcia, a former congressman who did not receive the support of the DCCC this year, was painted in a negative light in a document titled "FL-26 Path to Victory Summary" that was last updated April 1. The DCCC highlighted two Garcia gaffes during his time in office.  

"Garcia also made a large misstep during the campaign saying 'communism works; which did not sit well in an area with a large Cuban refugee population," the document says. "More embarrassingly, Garcia was caught on a CSPAN feed picking his earwax and seemingly eating it and the video made the rounds on the internet." 

The document goes on to highlight other Democratic goals to unseat Curbelo in District 26, notably getting 45 percent support from Hispanic/Latino voters, 57 percent from women voters, increased turnout among voters under 45 years of age, increased turnout among African-American voters in Homestead and at least 53.5 percent of the early vote. 

The DCCC also criticized Garcia's failed 2014 re-election campaign, saying it "was not a model to follow" and his direct-mail vendor was "subpar." It also said that Garcia's ground operation "struggled to garner support from local Democratic committees."

A second document titled "FL-26 Campaign Overview" from April 8 also acknowledged Taddeo's political vulnerabilities. 

"Annette has also proven to be a somewhat poor fundraiser and she has gained a reputation as an inadequate campaigner among some of the talkers in the community," the document says.

“As previously noted, the DCCC has been the target of a cybersecurity incident, and we are cooperating with federal law enforcement in their ongoing investigation," DCCC National Press Secretary Meredith Kelly said. "We are aware of reports that documents claimed to be from our network have been released and are investigating their authenticity."

UPDATE from Garcia campaign: "Today’s hack of Taddeo campaign documents shows that Annette Taddeo spent thousands of dollars on a private investigator to dig up dirt on Joe Garcia and then hired a Republican strategist to spin those lies into an insult-based campaign Florida Republicans are famous for -- the Garcia campaign has done none of the above and voters in Florida’s 26th district deserve better from Taddeo," Garcia spokesman Juan Peñalosa said in a statement. 

August 10, 2016

Once friends, Garcia and Taddeo become foes in tense Miami congressional primary

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@PatriciaMazzei

Not long ago, when Miami Democrat Joe Garcia was trying to get elected to one of the most volatile congressional seats in the country, he asked a stalwart friend if she could house a campaign worker who needed a place to stay.

That friend, Annette Taddeo, said yes.

Now Garcia is running again, this time as a former congressman two years out of office. His Democratic primary opponent is none other than his old friend: Taddeo.

And the motivation for her candidacy, as she explains it, is personal disappointment with Garcia, whose campaign got tied up in two separate criminal investigations connected to past elections shenanigans.

“That was just, to me, the ultimate kick in the gut,” she told the Miami Herald editorial board this week. “I don’t care that you’re a Democrat or a Republican — it’s just not right to play with the voters’ intent and to try to rig elections.”

Garcia, whose name is so well known in the district that he hasn’t spent serious money on the primary, maintains voters will see beyond his past legal troubles because they liked his work while in Congress.

“What you haven’t seen from me are false attacks,” he told the editorial board.

How Garcia and Taddeo went from chummy allies to tense rivals is a story about the extraordinary, often scandal-plagued politics of Florida’s 26th congressional district, a coveted prize among national Republicans and Democrats wrestling for control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

More here.

Photo credit: Emily Michot, Miami Herald staff