Carlos Curbelo Picks Up Steam as GOP Looks to Beat Joe Garcia
Around the State
GOP congressional hopeful Carlos Curbelo is off to an early start and it could pay dividends in 2014 as he looks to topple Joe Garcia.
Curbelo’s team announced on Monday that they had raised more than $450,000 in the third quarter of 2013 and had around $420,000 on hand. It’s an impressive sum and it should keep some of the other Republicans, whose names surfaced as possible candidates, out of the race. Curbelo has also won the backing of many prominent Republicans which will help ensure other prominent GOP leaders stay out of the contest. That’s no small thing since Republicans outnumber Democrats in this South Florida district.
Curbelo is actually using the same playbook that led David Rivera to Congress. During the 2010 elections, Rivera started early and raised serious funds that kept other Republicans out. Rivera went on to beat Garcia, though after the Republican was bombarded with questions about ethics, the Democrat won the rematch in 2012.
Like Rivera, Garcia has been plagued with ethics issues as several of his staffers have been investigated for voter fraud. Last week, Garcia drew national attention for comparing Republicans to the Taliban over the government shutdown. Garcia says he made the reference on extremism while Republicans maintain he was talking about his fellow congressmen.
Regardless of what Garcia meant, it’s not the best maneuver in a district where Republicans outnumber Democrats. That type of rhetoric might work for Alan Grayson, now in a heavy Democrat district, but it led to his downfall in 2010 when he lost a congressional seat in a swing district.
As Garcia shoots himself in the foot, Curbelo is solidifying his lead for the Republican nomination. Garcia won’t have Barack Obama and Bill Nelson turning out Democrats like he did last time out. While he can’t be pegged as the favorite in this race by any means, Curbelo should give Republicans a fighting chance to pick up a seat from the Democrats next year.
Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis exclusively for Sunshine State News.