National Parties Wade Into South Florida Congressional Race

By: Kevin Derby | Posted: July 22, 2014 3:55 AM
Carlos Curbelo and Joe Garcia

Carlos Curbelo and Joe Garcia

Republicans and Democrats are starting to hone their lines of attack in a South Florida congressional race which ranks as one of the most competitive in the nation. 

In recent days, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) exchanged broadsides as U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla., runs for his second term in Congress. Back in May, the DCCC planned to spend $970,000 to help Garcia while the NRCC announced last month it would use $1.4 million to try to topple him.

On Monday, the NRCC hit Garcia for saying Americans “don’t have a border security problem” on an episode of the "Bill Press Show" last week. The NRCC looked to link Garcia’s comment to various missteps the congressman has made, including well-publicized instances where he insisted “communism works,” which he said was a slip of the tongue, to digging in his ear and then eating his earwax during a committee meeting  

“Congressman Joe Garcia has officially joined the tone deaf politicians club in Washington,” said Katie Prill, a spokeswoman for the NRCC, on Monday. “His statement that we don’t have a border security problem is not only incorrect but dangerous seeing he serves on the subcommittee handling immigration and border security. The crisis at our border will never be solved if we have politicians like Garcia making ridiculous political statements instead of working to fix the problems facing our nation.”

Garcia has been sharply critical of Republican efforts on immigration, hitting the GOP leadership for failing to advance immigration reform in the U.S. House this year.

Besides drawing fire, Garcia is also getting help at the national level as the DCCC continues to attack Miami-Dade School Board member Carlos Curbelo, the favorite for the Republican nomination to challenge the congressman, on his political background, insisting the GOP hopeful is a lobbyist. On Friday, after Curbelo released two new ads saying he will not be as scandal-plagued as Garcia and former U.S. Rep. David Rivera, R-Fla., the DCCC insisted he is bad on ethics, comparing him to Gov. Rick Scott, R-Fla.

“Carlos Curbelo is the type of ‘businessman’ that only Rick Scott could love – because he’s actually a lobbyist,” said David Bergstein, a spokesman for the DCCC. Begstein noted that Curbelo has done lobbying work for Genting. “Now Curbelo is practicing Rick Scott style pay-to-play politics on the school board, hiding his clients and misleading residents in his first TV ad – which is exactly the behavior you would expect from a lobbyist.”

Besides Curbelo, Cutler Bay Mayor Ed MacDougall, former Miami-Dade County Commission Chairman Joe Martinez and attorney Lorenzo Palomares-Starbuck are also running for the Republican nomination in next month’s primary. Rivera’s name will appear on the ballot though he scuddled his bid earlier this month to run for a Florida House seat in 2016.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com.

Comments (1)

1:23PM JUL 22ND 2014
Congressman Joe Garcia (D-Fla.) doesn’t think the United States has a border security issue despite the fact that over 57,000 children have already crossed the southern border into the country illegally this year.

“We don’t have a border security problem,” Garcia, who is a member of the Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, said recently on The Bill Press Show.

He explained that these kids successfully penetrating the border have simply found “a loophole in the immigration system.” Garcia insisted that the border has been adequately “tightened” so as to stop adult immigrants from crossing into the United States.

“We’ve tightened the border so much that putting 250-pound Joe Garcia in northern Texas from Mexico is hard work,” detailed the congressman. “There are so many ways that you can be tripped up, so many places you can be caught.”

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