Big-Name Politicians Take Sides in Joe Garcia-Carlos Curbelo Showdown

By: Kevin Derby | Posted: March 27, 2014 3:55 AM
Carlos Curbelo and Joe Garcia

Carlos Curbelo and Joe Garcia

Leading politicians at the state and national level are getting involved in a South Florida congressional race which is increasingly appearing to be one of the most competitive contests of the 2014 election cycle.

U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla., and his leading Republican challenger, Miami-Dade School Board member Carlos Curbelo, brought out the big guns this week as they ready for the campaign.

Garcia called on U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., to go to bat for him on Wednesday. Nelson emailed supporters and praised Garcia in fulsome terms.

“In just his first year in Congress, my friend, Congressman Joe Garcia, has shown he's a tireless advocate for the communities he represents, and he's ready to tackle the big issues to help South Florida's families,” Nelson insisted before adding Garcia is “being targeted by the tea party and its supporters who are ready to spend millions to try to increase their numbers in Congress.

“Joe's leadership on issues important to Florida has been impressive,” Nelson continued. “He made sure that families and communities across our state weren't hit with astronomical flood insurance rate increases that would have derailed our economy.”

But Curbelo has been raising his stature with national Republicans. Fresh from his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) this month, earlier this week, when former Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Mass., came to South Florida, Curbelo met with the former Republican presidential candidate.

“Ceci and I got to spend some time with Gov. Romney last night,” Curbelo informed supporters on Tuesday. “He remains full of love and passion for our great nation.”

Earlier this month, Curbelo met with newly elected U.S. Rep. David Jolly, R-Fla., and former Gov. Jeb Bush endorsed the congressional hopeful at the end of last month.

“I am pleased to endorse Carlos Curbelo for Congress,” Bush said when he backed Curbelo. “He is a proven education reformer and a strong proponent of expanding economic freedom and cutting wasteful spending. Carlos will bring a servant’s heart to Washington to represent Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. I look forward to supporting Carlos’ campaign this year as he articulates his bold vision for the future of our nation.”

Curbelo battles Cutler Bay Mayor Ed MacDougall, former Miami-Dade County Commission Chairman Joe Martinez, attorney Lorenzo Palomares-Starbuck and Jose Peixoto in the Republican primary.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com.

Comments (5)

10:38PM MAR 27TH 2014
I would like Cubelo to release a poll he had done, he won't because he is losing to Joe Martinez, he can get all the endorsements he wants, buy Joe Martinez is the people's pick.
12:53PM MAR 27TH 2014
Where does he stand on medical marijuana for Florida? We see nothing here, so we will not see his name on the ballot this November.
more free money
7:37AM MAR 27TH 2014
State public records show Bush re-election concerns played part in FEMA aid-

As the second hurricane in less than a month bore down on Florida last fall, a federal consultant predicted a "huge mess" that could reflect poorly on President Bush and suggested that his re-election staff be brought in to minimize any political liability, records show.

Two weeks later, a Florida official summarizing the hurricane response wrote that the Federal Emergency Management Agency was handing out housing assistance "to everyone who needs it without asking for much information of any kind." The records are contained in hundreds of pages of Gov. Jeb Bush's storm-related e-mails initially requested by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel Oct. 13.

The governor's office finally released the documents Friday, after threat of a lawsuit by the newspaper. Democrats in Washington said the records confirm suspicions that the federal government used the hurricanes to funnel money to Florida, a key battleground state in the presidential election. "They weren't really asking for information, yet they were just doling out this money like it was Christmas," said Lale Mamaux, spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Boca Raton. "It's not surprising to learn that [Republicans] played politics with the hurricanes that tragically affected hundreds of thousands of Floridians last year," said Josh Earnest, spokesman for the Democratic National Committee. FEMA officials, the governor and the White House have steadfastly denied suggestions that politics played a role in the distribution of hurricane aid in Florida.

"The men and women at FEMA don't give a patooey about who the president is or who the governor is," FEMA Director Michael D. Brown told the newspaper's editorial board in October. "Whenever people say stuff like that Â… we're just offended by that because that's just not how we operate."

But politics was foremost on the mind of FEMA consultant Glenn Garcelon, who wrote a three-page memo titled "Hurricane Frances -- Thoughts and Suggestions," on Sept. 2, 2004.

As of March 16, 2005 FEMA had given $31 million to 12,891 applicants in Miami-Dade for damage claimed from Frances.

The grants are intended to help people find temporary housing, repair damage to homes and replace personal items, such as TVs, microwaves, computers and furniture.

Garcelon, in his memo, cautioned that processing applications for assistance after Frances in case of a catastrophic housing need could be overwhelming for FEMA, which was still dealing with the ramifications of Hurricane Charley.

In a Sept. 13 memo to Gov. Bush and other top state officials, Orlando J. Cabrera, executive director of the Florida Housing Finance Corp. and a member of the governor's Hurricane Housing Work Group, wrote after a meeting with FEMA that the agency was allocating short-term rental assistance to "everyone who needs it, without asking for much information of any kind."
more free money
7:35AM MAR 27TH 2014
W. Craig Fugate was confirmed by the US Senate and began his service as Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in May 2009. At FEMA, Fugate has promulgated the “whole community” approach to emergency management, emphasizing and improving collaboration with all levels of government (federal, tribal, state, and local) and external partners, including voluntary agencies, faith based organizations, the private sector and citizens.

Prior to coming to FEMA, Fugate served as Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM). Fugate served as the Florida State Coordinating Officer for 11 Presidentially-declared disasters including the management of $4.5 billion in federal disaster assistance. In 2004, Fugate managed the largest federal disaster response in Florida history as four major hurricanes impacted the state in quick succession; Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne. In 2005, Florida was again impacted by major disasters when three more hurricanes made landfall in the state; Dennis, Katrina and Wilma. The impact from Hurricane Katrina was felt more strongly in the gulf coast states to the west but under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact or EMAC, Florida launched the largest mutual aid response in its history in support of those states.
Under Fugate's stewardship, the FDEM program became the first statewide emergency management program in the nation to receive full accreditation from the Emergency Management Accreditation Program.
Fugate began his emergency management career as a volunteer firefighter, paramedic, and a Lieutenant with the Alachua County Fire Rescue. Eventually, he moved from exclusive fire rescue operations to serving as the Emergency Manager for Alachua County in Gainesville, Florida. He spent a decade in that role until May 1997 when he was appointed Bureau Chief for Preparedness and Response for FDEM. Within FDEM, Fugate's role as Chief of the State Emergency Response Team (SERT) kept him busy in 1998, the SERT team was active for more than 200 days as a result of numerous floods, tornadoes, wildfires, and Hurricane Georges.
Fugate and his wife Sheree hail from Gainesville, Florida.
7:01AM MAR 27TH 2014
"“I am pleased to endorse Carlos Curbelo for Congress,” Jeb Bush said when he backed Curbelo. “He is a proven education reformer and a strong proponent of expanding economic freedom and cutting wasteful spending. Carlos will bring a servant’s heart to Washington to represent Miami-Dade and Monroe counties."

Translates into "he is a member of the Bush machine" just like the rest of the Batista offspring with mob connections to the old Santo Trafficante, Jr. gang!

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