Aug 26, 2014
MEMO: Florida Democrats On Offense in Congressional Races
TO: Interested Parties
FR: DCCC Communications
DT: August 26, 2014
RE: Florida Democrats On Offense in Congressional Races
Democrats are entering Florida’s general election season on offense in both challenger and incumbent races, setting the stage for victories in November from the Keys to Panama City. In contrast, Florida Republicans are hamstrung by scandals, recruitment failures and a message of self-interested, partisan politics that represents exactly what Floridians don’t like about Washington. Following the primary, here’s the state of the races in the Sunshine State:
FL 02: Gwen Graham vs. Congressman Steve Southerland
Congressman Steve Southerland is entering the second week of a developing scandal surrounding his visit to King Ranch – where his sugar lobbyist backers hosted at least one secret meeting with Florida lawmakers. The trip came to light when Congressman Southerland was touting his Sugar Industry-backed bill targeting Florida’s wetlands.
Columns and editorials from the Pensacola News Journal, The Tampa Bay Times, The Orlando Sentinel and Context Florida have slammed Congressman Southerland for “dodging questions” entering “the cone of silence,” and pushing a special interest backed bill representing “’big government’ of the worst kind.”
Even before he became embroiled in this latest scandal, Congressman Southerland’s partisan and self-interested politics were turning off voters, whether it was his complaint that his $174,000 taxpayer funded salary isn’t enough, his role as the lawmaker who “killed reauthorization of the farm bill,” his vote against ending his government shutdown, and even his defense of his taxpayer-funded perks like the gym during the shutdown.
On the other hand, Gwen Graham is running to bring the North Florida Way back to Washington. She barnstormed the district on her 8-day, 14-county “Grilling With The Grahams Tour,” and she’s highlighting her commitment to growing the economy for the middle class by continuing her father’s iconic tradition of Work Days. The Rothenberg and Cook political reports and Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball recently shifted the race to a “Toss-Up” and public polling shows Graham ahead.
FL 18: Representative Patrick Murphy vs. Carl Domino
Representative Patrick Murphy has distinguished himself for his independence, results-oriented approach to cutting Washington’s wasteful spending, and relentless focus on the local issues that matter most to his constituents. The appeal of his agenda – coupled with his fundraising dominance – has led to one of the Republican’s greatest recruitment failures of the cycle.
After suffering through a divisive intra-party fight, Republicans are now left with Carl Domino, a Tallahassee politician with a record of prioritizing himself and his special interest backers over Florida’s families. Domino’s flaws are already coming to light: he was exposed for plagiarizing his “plan” to fix Congress, claimed he didn’t know if he was pro-choice or pro-life (while running TV ads attacking women’s healthcare choices) and has only posted weak fundraising numbers. Coupled with his failure to garner even 50 percent of the primary vote after dramatically outspending his opponents, signs are clear that even Republicans aren’t excited about Domino’s campaign.
The Cook and Rothenberg Political Reports recently moved this race to favor Murphy, although we fully expect the same kind of shadowy special interests that Domino looked out for in Tallahassee will do all they can to prop him up in the fall.
FL 26: Representative Joe Garcia vs. Carlos Curbelo
For the last two weeks, Carlos Curbelo has limped through his primary refusing to answer a simple question: will you disclose your lobbying clients? He’s been hounded on local media appearances, slammed by his Republican opponents and called out by a local political commentator for refusing to reveal any potential conflicts of interest with his work on the School Board. Curbelo even went so far as to challenge his opponents to “file a complaint” against him.
The questions surrounding Curbelo’s lobbying work follow a Miami New Times report revealing that Curbelo “has a history of approving contracts for campaign donors” on the School Board, funneling millions of tax dollars to his political cronies.
But Curbelo’s lobbying scandal is just one example of how he’s putting himself and his political ambitions over South Florida’s values: Curbelo has pandered to the far right-wing by calling for the indiscriminate deportation of immigrant children caught in the border crisis, supports the Republican budget ending the Medicare guarantee (even though he admits he didn’t read it), and helped devise Rick Scott’s education proposals that slashed support for public schools.
Representative Joe Garcia has already earned a reputation for putting South Florida first in Washington. He’s quickly distinguished himself as a leading champion for comprehensive immigration reform, led the charge to pass a bipartisan bill capping flood insurance rates, and has been a proven advocate for local businesses and job creation.