Joe Garcia, Carlos Curbelo Hit the S. Florida Ground Running Despite Ethics Jabs

By: Kevin Derby | Posted: August 28, 2014 3:55 AM
Joe Garcia and Carlos Curbelo

Joe Garcia and Carlos Curbelo

With the primary season over, the fighting between Democrats and Republicans intensified in South Florida as a vulnerable U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla., and GOP challenger Miami-Dade School Board member Carlos Curbelo took off the gloves and exchanged attacks on Wednesday. 

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) rode to Garcia’s aid on Wednesday, releasing a new Web video hitting Curbelo on ethics and looking to use former Gov. Mitt Romney’s, R-Mass., endorsement against him. President Barack Obama beat Romney in the district by almost 7 percent in the 2012 presidential contest.

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“Carlos Curbelo puts one person first: Carlos Curbelo,” said David Bergstein, a spokesman for the DCCC, on Wednesday. “Whether Curbelo is hiding his lobbying clients, funneling millions of tax dollars to his campaign contributors or pushing the agenda of his allies like Mitt Romney to stack the deck against the middle class, Curbelo puts his own political ambitions first – which is why South Florida families can’t trust Curbelo in Congress.”   

But the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) fired away at Garcia on Wednesday, insisting that Curbelo’s strong showing over four Republican rivals in the primary shows he will be a force to be reckoned with come November. The NRCC also jabbed Garcia over ethics, noting that the congressman was entangled in a voter-fraud scandal.

Katie Prill, a spokeswoman for the NRCC, called Garcia a “wannabe gangster” and compared him to troubled pop star Justin Bieber on Wednesday.

“Congressman Joe Garcia most likely spends his days worrying about going to jail for corruption, but now Garcia has to worry about losing his seat thanks to his competition with Justin Bieber over who is the biggest wannabe gangster,” Prill said. “Carlos Curbelo offers South Florida families a chance to vote for a representative that actually has their best interest in mind, unlike Garcia who is just looking for his next election to rig.”

On the ground in South Florida, Garcia and Curbelo started their own general election efforts.

Garcia met with voters in Kendall, hosting a morning event as he kicked off his general election campaign.
“This election is about determining who will put our South Florida community first,” Garcia said. “This is the best job in the world because I get to help fix problems and work to improve the lives of South Florida’s families. As an elected representative I want to make myself available. I want to be accessible. It needs to be easy for people to reach out so that I can work to get them the help they need and better represent our families in Washington.”  

For his part, Curbelo focused on ethics, attempting to contrast himself with Garcia and scandal-plagued former U.S. Rep. David Rivera, R-Fla., who lost the seat to the Democrat in 2012 and flopped badly in Tuesday’s primary, placing a distant fourth behind Curbelo.  

“My commitment is to work hard every day to honor the trust of the residents from Westchester, Kendall, South Dade, Homestead, and the Florida Keys,” Curbelo insisted.

Curbelo also looked to win over Republicans who voted against him in the primary, pledging “to strengthen our great nation, to renew the promise of America’s economy, and to restore honor and integrity to Congressional District 26.”

“I will work hard to honor your trust and support, and to earn the trust and support of those who voted for other candidates,” Curbelo promised. “We worked hard and always stayed positive. I am very proud of the campaign we ran and clearly our message resonated with the voters of the district."

Wasi Gatian, Curbelo's communications director, fired back at the DCCC on Thursday.

“While the DCCC is trying to pivot from the cloud of controversy and scandals  surrounding Joe Garcia and his campaign – including the fact that his campaign remains under FBI investigation for the potential illegal financing of a straw candidate – Carlos Curbelo, contrary to Joe Garcia, can proudly campaign on the values of honest, ethical, and responsible leadership," Gaitan said in a statement sent to Sunshine State News on Thursday. "At a time when our community is eager for responsible, effective leadership these frivolous attacks will not stand.”

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com or follow him on Twitter: @KevinDerbySSN 

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