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Republicans set aside $2.6 million for ads in Miami congressional race

@PatriciaMazzei

The National Republican Congressional Committee said this week that it plans to spend $2.6 million in advertising in the contested race for Florida's 26th district.

That's more than the $1.4 million the NRCC originally said it would use to go after U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, a Miami Democrat -- and more than the $900,000-plus the GOP's counterparts, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, has said it expects to spend. (Roll Call has pegged the DCCC's spending in the race at $970,000.)

Garcia faces a challenge from Republican Carlos Curbelo for the swing district that extends from Westchester to Key West. 

Republicans and deep-pocketed conservative groups are investing heavily in the race, spying a chance to return the seat to GOP hands. Garcia, a freshman congressman, defeated Republican Rep. David Rivera two years ago, after redrawn district lines made voter registration numbers slightly more favorable to Democrats.

The totals are for independent expenditures parties and other outside organizations are allowed to make on campaigns without coordinating with candidates.

"Joe Garcia already has 99 problems but the NRCC is about to give him one more," spokeswoman Katie Prill said in a statement. "Garcia refuses to come clean about his role in the absentee-ballot fraud scandal that sent his chief of staff to prison and the federal investigation on the Garcia campaign's involvement in funding a straw candidate. Rest assured South Florida families will get to see just how corrupt Joe Garcia is with our TV ads this fall."

For his part, DCCC spokesman David Bergstein said in a statement: "Here's Carlos Curbelo's record: He called Medicare and Social Security a 'Ponzi scheme,' he slashed education jobs and wages on the School Board, and he funneled millions of tax dollars in School Board contracts to his campaign donors. Curbelo is looking out for himself, his paying clients and his Tea Party political allies -- but Curbelo's self-interested politics are so out of touch with South Floridians that shadowy outside groups will no doubt be forced to spend millions propping him up."

So far, not counting web ads, Garcia has several TV spots in rotation, including an attack ad, and one on Miami Spanish-language radio. Curbelo has two ads of his own -- one in English, one in Spanish. The one in Spanish has been airing since the primary; the English one is slightly different, pointing out the state conviction against Garcia's former chief of staff and ongoing federal investigation into the congressman's 2010 campaign. Curbelo also has Spanish-language radio ad.

Garcia has tried to define Curbelo by taking out ads early -- something the incumbent can afford to do because he has outraised Curbelo, and the Republican had to spend cash on a crowded GOP primary field.

But the election isn't until Nov. 4.

This post has been corrected to reflect that Curbelo also has two TV ads airing.

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