Yahoo! News recently dispatched a correspondent to South Florida to report on the ever-colorful race for the 26th congressional district. The piece begins:
Democratic Congressman Joe Garcia is standing in a living room in the bungalow community of Kendale Lakes, Fla., trying to motivate his supporters. Arrayed around him are a dozen volunteers preparing to make phone calls on his behalf. The blinds are drawn against the afternoon heat. "Remember," he tells them, by way of imparting the necessary urgency, "the key here is that we're not going to beat them on commercials: They're always going to have more money than us. So what we have to try to do throughout is just ask people to make sure they vote. If you can get them to vote early, that counts for twice." Then he expands on the joke. "And in Miami, sometimes they vote two or three times."
Garcia, 51, is a lawyer, energy-policy expert, and representative for the 26th district, which stretches from southwestern Miami down to Key West. He is an incumbent of just one term — not long enough to be viewed as an institutional breadwinner for the area, but in this unfriendly electoral climate, just long enough to seem like part of the problem in the far-off mess of Washington, D.C. His challenger, Carlos Curbelo, is a 34-year-old Miami-Dade School Board member and Republican consultant who portrays himself as a fresh alternative.
With no love lost between Garcia and Curbelo, the piece prompted an angry statement over the weekend from Curbelo, who said he didn't appreciate Garcia's joke on Floridians casting multiple ballots. It gave the Curbelo camp another chance to highlight that Garcia's 2010 campaign remains under federal investigation over a suspected straw candidate -- and that his 2012 campaign chief went to jail over attempted absentee-ballot manipulation.