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Tight FL Congressional Race, Dem. Mucarsel-Powell v. GOP Cong. Curbelo

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell—She’s Challenging Obamacare Opponent/“Moderate” GOP Congressman Carlos Curbelo May 14, 2018

We are less than six months away from the crucial 11/06/2018 midterm elections. If Democratic candidates for the House and their progressive base “play their cards right,” they can then flip the net 23 seats needed to recapture that chamber and stop much of Demagogue Donald’s reactionary agenda. They will perform their constitutional duty to check the Oval Office. We must keep our eyes on this ultimate goal, taking back the House, and not get diverted. In a 5/04/2018 editorial, Adam Schiff (D-CA), a former federal prosecutor and the ranking (highest minority) member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, correctly argues that Democrats must not run on impeaching Trump. In Schiff’s editorial, he states that if Democrats try to recapture the House by campaigning on impeaching Trump, they will be backing Donald’s false argument that “Team Blue” is more interested in impeachment than governing, a claim that will rally Trump’s hard-core base. Such a strategy could cost Democrats a good chance at retaking the House. Democrats, in Schiff’s words, “should not take the (impeachment) bait.” Democrats, indeed, all Americans, “should reserve judgment” until the investigations by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and congressional members have run their course. Democrats must continue to focus “on the economy, family, and a return to basic decency (NY Times, 5/04/18, Schiff).”

Fortunately, many Democratic congressional challengers are taking Cong. Schiff’s advice and going after the GOP for their anti-economic and family hostile votes. Besides attacking GOP incumbents for voting for the budget-busting top 1% tax cut scam, these “Blue” challengers are running on protecting and preserving health care. On the one-year 5/04/2018 anniversary of House GOPers proudly voting to repeal Obamacare, numerous Democrats made note of this awful action by declaring their commitment to protect and preserve health care. While House GOPers are ducking this issue, Democrats are attacking GOP Congressmen who voted for this “Trumpcare”/ repeal Obamacare bill. Although this bill ultimately failed in the Senate, thanks in part, to a dying John McCain (R-AZ) voting against it, that margin was far too close. House Democratic challengers are rightly going after their GOP opponents’ vote to destroy this key social safety net legislation protecting millions of Americans. In the words of one of these Democratic challengers, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, “On May 4th of last year, I saw Congressman Curbelo take his vote to threaten all of the work we’ve done for so many years, that’s the moment I knew I had to run & fight for health care for our community #FL26, miamiherald.com, 11:23AM, 5/04/18.” Let’s view this contest.

Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (46) is challenging second-term GOP Congressman Carlos Curbelo (38) who currently represents FL’s 26th Congressional District, CD (115th Cong. At Your Fingertips, miamiherald.com, 8/01/17, Mazzei & Daugherty). The Sunshine State’s 26th CD was created after the 2010 census, and the first election held for that congressional seat took place in 2012 (washingtonpost.com). The FL 26th forms that state’s southern tip. It contains all of Monroe County, in which a vast stretch of the protected swamps of the Everglades is located. The 26th includes the 120-mile long FL Keys island chain. Much of the southern edges of Miami-Dade County are part of this CD. Ninety percent of the 26th’s population is located in the western and southern edges of metropolitan Miami. The 26th includes the cities of Key West and part of Homestead as well as Tamiami, Princeton, and The Hammocks. Agriculture, an economic mainstay, involves the production of strawberries, tomatoes, citrus fruits, and avocados. Tourism is another economic pillar in the 26th where part of the Tamiami Trail, the Metrozoo, and Monkey Jungle are located. Key West’s art galleries, night clubs, and gay community attract visitors (Barone & CQ 14 Political Almanacs).

Hispanics constitute 69% of the 26th. Cuban- Americans make up 37% of the 26th. The remaining 32% of the 26th’s Latino residents trace their ancestry to Nicaragua, Columbia, the Dominican Republic, and Venezuela. Homestead, hit hard by 1992’s Hurricane Andrew, and neighboring Florida City have sizeable African American populations, but Hispanics have also moved into Homestead (Barone &CQ 14). The 26th is fairly swingy and very competitive. More than 25% of the 26th is unaffiliated. The GOP anti-Castro regime stance of Cuban-Americans has softened. Obama won this district in 2012 by 7 points and Democrat Joe Garcia won the 2012 congressional election by over 10 points (CQ 14). In 2014, GOP Carlos Curbelo defeated freshman Garcia by a 3% margin. In a 2016 rematch, Curbelo clobbered Garcia by 12.8 points (2014 & 2016 FL Dept. of State Election Results). At the same time Curbelo was cruising to victory in 2016, Hillary was clobbering Donald in that same 26th CD by 16.3 points, her biggest margin in the nation in a seat held by a GOPer running for re-election (Caputo, Politico, 2/28/18). According to the Cook Partisan Voting Index (PVI), the FL 26th now has a +6 D tilt, making Curbelo’s district the most Democratic in the nation currently held by a GOPer (miamiherald.com, Mazzei & Daugherty, 8/01/17). Democrats are aiming at the 23 GOPers in districts that backed Hillary in 2016. They view these seats as prime 2018 takeover opportunities, the same number needed to recapture the House. Given his 26th district’s voting tilt and behavior, Cong. Curbelo has been targeted by “Team Blue” for months. When Debbie Mucarsel-Powell stated she would announce her candidacy on 8/02/2017, the Miami Herald called her a “serious 2018 challenger (Mazzei & Daugherty, 8/01/17).”

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell personifies the American Dream. At age 14, Ecuadorian native Mucarsel-Powell moved to Southern California along with her single mother and three sisters. In 1996, Mucarsel-Powell followed a sister to South FL. Mucarsel-Powell is now married and has a stepdaughter, a daughter, and a son. After working for years at ZooMiami and for Florida International University, Mucarsel-Powell opened a consulting firm on strategic planning. Mucarsel-Powell stated, “I’ve spent my entire life in nonprofits trying to bring change, positive change. People are really charged. They’re angry. They’re frustrated. They want change (miamiherald.com, Mazzei & Daugherty, 8/01/107).” Mucarsel-Powell and her fellow Democrats know the people in the 26th did not mean the “change” Curbelo had in mind, voting to destroy health care reform. They meant “change” by strengthening and improving that law. In the 26th CD, 92,500 people get health insurance through Obamacare, one of the highest rates in the country (miamiherald.com, 8/01/17).

In 2016, Mucarsel-Powell challenged a veteran GOP lawmaker who was running in the redrawn FL 39th State Senate District. Mucarsel-Powell, unknown to many voters in the FL 39th , lost by 8 points. However, Mucarsel-Powell forced this well-known GOPer to raise $1.3 million, more than any other state legislative candidate. Despite losing, Mucarsel-Powell left a good impression with local Democratic operatives. They were impressed with the way she argued for abortion rights, environmental protection, and gun control. The FL 39th State Senate District overlaps with much of the 26th CD (miamiherald.com, Mazzei & Daughtery, 8/01/17).

Miami native Carlos Curbelo is the son of Cuban exiles. He received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in public administration from the University of Miami (AP, 11/08/14, votesmart.org). Prior to running for Congress, Curbelo was a member of the Miami-Dade County Public Schools Board and the founder of Capitol Gains, a government/public relations firm (votesmart.org, Mazzei, Veiga, & Chang, miamiherald.com, 11/06/14, dailyentertainmentews.com).

GOP Cong. Curbelo is often in the news bragging about breaking from his hard-right party and how he is a “moderate.” IMHO, he’s a MINO, “Moderate in Name Only.” As of 1/2018 in the current 115th Congress, Curbelo has voted with his “Team Red” allies 86.3% of the time, not so far removed from his Dixie/Rocky Mountain colleagues (See “ProPublica”). In 3/2016, Curbelo stated he would not vote for Donald on “moral,” not “political” grounds. In 10/2016, he stated he was not supporting either of the two major presidential candidates (“Sunshine State News,” 3/25/16, Rosen, mcclatchydc.com, 10/03/16). However, as of 1/2018, Cong. Curbelo has voted in line with Donald’s positions 83.6% of the time, no moderate record (See Bycoffe, fivethirtyeight.com). Vote Smart, a non-profit, non-partisan research organization, researched Cong. Curbelo’s record. According to Vote Smart, Cong. Curbelo generally supports pro-life legislation. He opposes income tax increases and supports lowering taxes as a means of promoting economic growth. He supported building the Keystone Pipeline. He supports repealing the Affordable Care Act/Obmacare. He wants to allow individuals to divert a portion of their Social Security taxes into personal retirement accounts, a stance that would gut Social Security. He wants increased intervention in Iraq and Syria, going beyond air support (votesmart.com, carlos-curbelo). Curbelo called the Obamacare bill “bad policy.” He stated he wanted to “substitute” or “replace” Obamacare so that it would “no longer exist (@”politifact”). Curbelo voted for the 1% tax bill scam. He argued that this bill would “make American families more prosperous.” The “Miami New Times” projected that Curbelo’s wife, the sister of former Marlins third baseman Mike Lowell, would financially benefit from this bill. Curbelo’s wife owns a pass through limited liability company. Under this bill, such companies would be able to deduct a larger portion of their profits on taxes (Iannelli, 12/22/17).

Curbelo calls himself a Second Amendment gun rights supporter. The NRA has given him $7,450. In 2/2017, Curbelo voted against legislation Congress passed to have people who are mentally impaired have their names sent to the National Criminal Background Check system. About one month later, Curbelo voted to overturn legislation signed by W Bush in 2007 that the Dep. of Veterans Affairs (VA) submit names of mentally defective veterans to the background check system. Since this law was passed, 174, 000 veterans names have been added to the list for various mental illnesses including schizophrenia and severe post-traumatic stress disorder. A group of former generals all opposed this attempt to overturn the 2007 legislation, but Curbelo voted, as his opponent, Mucrasel Powell noted, with “the gun lobby and Republican leadership.” After the 2/14/2018 Parkland, FL high school massacre, Cong. Curbelo, called for “strengthening background checks” on gun purchasers. Murcasel-Powell rightly called Curbelo’s talk “in conflict with his prior votes.” She stated that his shifting talk on guns was a “common theme for Cong. Curbelo: tough talk in Florida, but party-line votes, standing with special interests in Washington (Caputo, Politico, 2/08/18).” Yes, Curbelo is in favor of same-sex marriage and is not an anti-immigration hard-liner (votesmart.org). In his immigrant and gay-populated district, he has to be that way. In a GOP-majority House, those stands are irrelevant. Cong. Curbelo’s gay and immigrant record are, however, trotted out by “Team Red” leadership to show that “we’re not all homophobes and xenophobes.”

Although the FL 26th CD is trending Democratic, “trends” are not enough. The GOP has vowed to spend millions to keep fake “moderate” Curbelo in this competitive swing seat and others like him (miamiherald.com, Mazzei & Daugherty, 8/01/17). Democrats must fund Mucarsel-Powell to even the playing field. Mucarsel-Powell and her fellow Democratic candidates must keep hammering Curbelo and his GOP friends for their health care and tax care votes. Most importantly, Mucarsel-Powell must be supported in the 11/06/2018 general elections by Democrats coming out in droves. As former Pres. Obama stated, Democrats can’t “fall asleep” in this midterm or any other election. There is no other way to take back the House.

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