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UPDATED Miami Rep. Joe Garcia attacks challenger Carlos Curbelo in new TV ad


Rep. Joe Garcia has gone negative.

The Miami Democrat's reelection campaign released its second round of television ads Thursday with a new, 30-second spot that attacks Republican challenger Carlos Curbelo. The ad comes on the heels of the release of a poll commissioned by Curbelo that shows him leading the incumbent Garcia in a tight race for Florida's 26th congressional district.

Titled "Shutting Out," the ad accuses Curbelo "and Tea Party Republicans" of "closing the door on the middle class."

"They'd go back to the days when health insurance companies could charge women more than men for the same coverage," the ad claims.

As evidence, the campaign points to past Curbelo comments in which he has said he would support repealing and replacing the federal healthcare law. Curbelo has not commented specifically on "gender rating" -- the pre-Obamacare practice of insurers using gender as a factor to determine rates. But he has said he would keep some of the Affordable Care Act's policies, including extending coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.

The ad also continues to claim that Curbelo "would end the Medicare guarantee" -- a statement PolitiFact Florida has rated False. Garcia's campaign cites an April AARP press release that criticizes a budget plan proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the Republican House budget chairman, over its Medicare reforms. Curbelo has said he would support Ryan's budget.

It's no surprise that Garcia has gone on the offensive in only his second round of TV ads, aimed for broadcast networks. Garcia is hitting key issues for Democratic voters -- healthcare, Medicare -- who usually need some coaxing to go to the polls in midterm elections. The ads are also a chance for Garcia to try to counter of news coverage of federal law enforcement intensifying its investigation into his former chief of staff over a suspected 2010 ringer candidate.

The first batch of Garcia ads, released on cable stations last week, didn't deliver an entirely positive message, either. In the two ads -- one for Miami-Dade County voters, the other for voters in the Florida Keys -- Garcia pivoted from a positive message to one going after Curbelo, a Miami-Dade school board member. The district stretches from Westchester to Key West.

UPDATE: Curbelo's camp has weighed in on the ad, calling it an "attempt to deflect attention from the chronic corruption that his campaign has perpetrated on our community."

"Once again Joe Garcia is resorting to lying in fictional attack ads that have been fact checked by the press and declared false," Curbelo communications director Wadi Gaitan said in a statement.