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Round 2 of MacDougall vs. Curbelo in Miami congressional race


Ed MacDougall is not letting up on his efforts to portray Carlos Curbelo, the likely frontrunner in the 26th congressional district race, as too moderate for Republican voters.

MacDougall's latest attack, in a new radio spot (in Spanish) and flier (in English and Spanish): that Curbelo, a Miami-Dade School Board member, broke with the local GOP by supporting the Common Core educational standards. (Here are the front and back of the mailer.)

The flier, designed to look like the warning label on a prescription drug, lists "potential side effects" of voting for Curbelo as "harm our children's potential growth" and "impose indoctrination."

PolitiFact has issued several False rulings on statements by Common Core opponents, including a Pants on Fire to a claim that the standards are intended "to instill federally determined attitudes and mindsets in students including political and religious beliefs."

Last year, the Miami-Dade Republican Executive Committee opposed Common Core. At the time, the issue was hot in Florida politics, with tea-party types pushing Gov. Rick Scott to abandon the benchmarks. Curbelo wrote an op-ed published in the Miami Herald backing them.

He has continued to do so on the campaign trail, though only when asked. On those occasions, he calls it a state issue and is quick to note that one of his heavyweight supporters, former Gov. Jeb Bush, supports Common Core as well. The issue appears nowhere on Curbelo's campaign website.

MacDougall, the Cutler Bay mayor, has already gone after Curbelo for initially backing then-Gov. Charlie Crist in the 2010 U.S. Senate race and only switching his allegiance to the eventual winner, Marco Rubio, after Crist left the GOP. MacDougall has also tried to pin Curbelo as a supporter of the federal healthcare law -- an attack PolitiFact rated Mostly False.

The latest set of ads also accuse Curbelo of putting his media and public relations firm, Capitol Gains, in his wife Cecilia's name to avoid disclosure of the firm's finances or its clients. Curbelo says he divested from the firm in 2009 -- a year before he was elected to the School Board -- following the suggestion of U.S. Senate attorneys when he went to work for then-Sen. George LeMieux.

MacDougall's ads bring up a local issue as well, suggesting Curbelo supported a partly taxpayer-funded renovation of the Miami Dolphins' stadium -- a claim Curbelo called a lie.

"It's another total fabrication," he said. "He struggles with telling the truth."

MacDougall's campaign did not immediately respond to a request asking it to back up the assertion. MacDougall rallied a group of mayors in opposition to the short-lived stadium proposal.

Portraying himself as a hard-right Republican might help MacDougall win over some primary voters in the district, which comprises Kendall to Key West. But Miami-Dade County has never been a cradle of tea-party sentiment. Neither have the Florida Keys, though voters there tend to have a more Libertarian streak.

And if MacDougall, who significantly trails Curbelo in fundraising, were to pull off a primary victory, he'd have trouble selling such a conservative platform to a general-election electorate. The district leans slightly Democratic.

The repeated Republican-on-Republican bashing has upset Nelson Diaz, the chairman of the Miami-Dade GOP, who said he finds the attacks divisive.

"I strongly encourage all Republican candidates to abide by [Ronald] Reagan's 11th commandment by avoiding personal attacks on each other," he said. "Our nominee must come out of the primary strong enough to defeat Joe Garcia, whose campaign has already demonstrated a willingness to cheat and violate elections laws in order to win."