Miami Dade School Board member Carlos Curbelo, who is running for the Republican nomination to challenge U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla., was included in the National Republican Congressional Committees (NRCC) Contender tier of Young Guns.
After losing control of the U.S. House in 2006, younger Republicans in Congress -- namely U.S. Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., U.S. House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.-- crafted the Young Gun program to help GOP congressional hopefuls campaign and raise funds.
Curbelo announced Wednesday he has raised more than $310,000 in the first quarter of the year, bringing his total to more than $950,000 in the campaign so far. By the end of March, Garcia had brought in more than $460,000 in the first quarter and more than $2.2 million in the campaign.
U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., the chairman of the NRCC, said on Thursday that candidates like Curbelo were making progress due to Americans frustrations with the Obama administration and Beltway Democrats.
Americans believe strongly that the country is on the wrong track because of President Obama and Nancy Pelosis failed policies, like Obamacare, said Walden. These impressive Republican candidates that have reached the Contender status are exemplary of the new leadership needed in Washington, D.C., to turn our country around and provide a check and balance in Washington.
I am confident that these candidates will continue to work hard for their communities and bring sound, conservative principles to Congress, Walden added.
The six other Republicans included as Contenders are Lee Zeldin in New York, Ryan Costello in Pennsylvania, Torrey Westrom in Minnesota, Pedro Celis in Washington, Jeff Gorell in California and Dan Debicella in Connecticut.
But the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) quickly dismissed the NRCCs move as part of a dog and pony show even as most pundits and political experts dismiss Democratic chances of flipping the House in November.
Congressional Republicans just rewarded seven of their most prized puppets for their unwavering support for putting special interests and the wealthiest few ahead of the middle class, said Josh Schwerin, a spokesman for the DCCC, on Thursday. If Republicans think that voters will elect these rubber stamps to join them in Congress while they are supporting policies that hurt middle class Americans, theyre in for a surprise in November.
Juan Penalosa, Garcias new campaign manager, fired back on Republican-leaning groups backing Curbelo on Thursday.
We know that recent special-interest money attacks on Joe are just a taste of the big money they're planning to dump in, as Joes race is a top target, Penalosa insisted on Thursday, adding the campaign plans to go toe-to-toe with the Karl Rove and the Koch Bros. special interest money and the tea party movement was targeting the freshman Democrat.
Joe won big last year and the tea party doesn't seem ready to accept defeat here in South Florida, Penalosa maintained. Their grassroots strength can't match ours, but their super-PACs are already spending heavily to make up the difference.
While Garcia does have the lead in the money race, Curbelo has a clear financial advantage over his rivals for the Republican nomination. By the end of March, Cutler Bay Mayor Ed MacDougall chipped in $131,000 of his own funds into his campaign, raised $28,125 and had $42,720 on hand. Former Miami-Dade County Commission Chairman Joe Martinez raised almost $67,000 by the end of March and had less than $49,675 on hand. Attorney Lorenzo Palomares-Starbuck relied on $90,000 of his own funds, raised $57,435 and had more than $38,900 in the bank at the end of March.
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com.