One of the most expensive congressional contests in Florida — with a price tag of nearly $14 million as of Friday — is being waged in Miami between U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia and opponent Carlos Curbelo. But neither candidate can claim to have spent the majority of that money.
That’s because the biggest spender has been a force outside their control: third-party political groups, which have poured about $8.5 million into the campaign.
Forget all politics being local. All politics have become national.
That momentous shift can benefit challengers like Curbelo, a Republican who has raised less money on his own than Garcia, the incumbent Democrat. Outside dollars have helped Curbelo keep up — yet he says that doesn’t make him entirely comfortable.
“On balance, I think that it’s unfortunate because you don’t control the message,” he said. “While I think people running for office appreciate any support they get, there must be a better way. The candidates are — and should be — the protagonists.”
More money has been spent in the 26th congressional district race this year than in 2012 and 2010 combined. Two years ago, the campaign between Garcia and then-Rep. David Rivera cost about $2.3 million, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. Four years ago, when Republicans and Democrats battled for a rare open seat, the race cost about $5.8 million, at the time an eye-popping figure.