The stakes are being raised as Republicans in South Florida get ready for a crowded primary to take on one of the more vulnerable Democratic congressmen in the nation.
Even with former U.S. Rep. David Rivera, R-Fla., making a last-minute surprise announcement earlier in the month that he was running for the Republican nomination to challenge U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla., the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) continues to showcase Miami Dade School Board member Carlos Curbelo in that race.
On Monday, the NRCC named Curbelo as one of 10 Republicans running for current Democratic seats as Young Guns, its top level of congressional challengers. 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 was showcased in the middle of April as a "contender" in the Young Gun program.
Candidates that reach Young Gun status have met a series of rigorous goals that will put them in a position to win on Election Day, said U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., the chairman of the NRCC, on Monday. Our job as a committee is to help elect Republicans to office that will serve as a check and balance on the Obama administration. These 10 candidates have outlined conservative principles that will grow jobs, stop the harmful effects of Obamacare, and get Washingtons spending under control. I am confident that these candidates will continue to advocate for hard-working families in their respective districts through the November elections.
Curbelo is the only new Young Gun based in Florida. The other new Young Guns are Martha McSally in Arizona, Bob Dold and Mike Bost in Illinois, Richard Tisei in Massachusetts, Torrey Westrom and Stewart Mills in Minnesota, Ryan Costello in Pennsylvania, Barbara Comstock in Virginia and Evan Jenkins in West Virginia.
In the meantime, Rivera cant count on an old supporter. Last week, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., told Politicohe did not plan to get involved in the Republican primary.
I dont typically get involved in House primaries, especially in open races, he said.
Rubio had been an ally of Rivera stretching back to their time together in the Florida House. During the 2012 election cycle, even as reports of scandals swirled around Rivera, Rubio backed his bid to keep his seat against Garcia.
Other candidates running in the Republican primary include Cutler Bay Mayor Ed MacDougall, former Miami-Dade County Commission Chairman Joe Martinez and attorney Lorenzo Palomares-Starbuck.
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com.