State Rep. Javier Fernandez Endorses Debbie Mucarsel-Powell

Miami, FL – Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, who is running to unseat Republican Congressman Carlos Curbelo (FL-26), was endorsed this Wednesday by State Representative Javier Fernandez.

“Debbie is exactly the kind of representative South Florida needs: someone who is committed to ending gun violence and standing up for immigrants,” said Florida State Representative Javier Fernandez. “Every American deserves to have their voice heard in Washington, and I’m proud to support Debbie on her bid to become the voice of Florida’s 26th district.”


“I’m honored to have Javier Fernandez support as we take the fight for gun control to Congress,” Mucarsel-Powell said. “Voters in our community know that Congressman Curbelo is only looking to serve himself and his Republican donors in Washington. It’s quite simple: South Florida deserves better.”

Rep. Javier Fernandez was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in a special election in 2018. He serves the constituents of District 114.

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Florida Politics: “United Teachers of Dade backs Debbie Mucarsel-Powell in CD 26”

United Teachers of Dade (UTD), a union with more than 30,000 members, is backing Debbie Mucarsel-Powell in the Democratic primary for Florida’s 26th Congressional District.

Mucarsel-Powell is competing with former naval officer Demetries Grimes for the nomination. The CD 26 seat is currently held by Republican Carlos Curbelo.

“We believe Debbie will make a difference in Congress by fully funding our public schools, supporting educational policies that put our students first and working to improve the lives of working people,” said UTD president Karla Hernandez-Mats.

“Every day, our teachers are working to improve the lives of over 350,000 children in Miami-Dade County. They deserve a representative who will fight for better schools and to ensure every student has a chance to fulfill their potential.”

The endorsement comes as Mucarsel-Powell launched her first TV spot of the cycle, which puts a spotlight on her immigrant roots and the diversity of the CD 26 community.

The district covers Monroe County and portions of Miami-Dade County. Analysts such as the Cook Political Report and Larry Sabato rate the race as a toss-up.

Miami Herald: “Mucarsel-Powell goes up on TV”

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell began airing her first TV commercial Tuesday as she seeks to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo in Congress.

Mucarsel-Powell, a Democrat who came to the U.S. from Ecuador as a teenager with her mother and three older sisters, is using the ad to introduce herself to Florida’s 26th district, which stretches from West Dade to Key West.

“I came to this country from Ecuador at 14, searching for a better life,” she says in the ad. “With hard work, I found it. So I’ve always worked to give back. As associate dean at FIU [Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine], I helped those who couldn’t afford health care get it.”

Mucarsel-Powell’s campaign said it made a “six-figure ad buy” on cable this month, with plans to continue running ads through the fall.

She faces a primary opponent in retired Navy Cmdr. Demetries A. Grimes, an underdog running a shoe-string campaign. But with $1.6 million raised through the beginning of July and the backing of House Democrats, Mucarsel-Powell is expected to face Curbelo in November.

Curbelo, who himself faces a nominal primary challenge from Souraya Faas, released a social media ad Tuesday. You can see his ad, first reported by POLITICO, here.

Florida Politics: “Debbie Mucarsel-Powell ad highlights immigrant roots: ‘We are one South Florida’”

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell is out with her first TV ad in her campaign to oust incumbent U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo in Florida’s 26th Congressional District.

The ad is named “One South Florida” and highlights Mucarsel-Powell’s immigrant roots along with the diversity of the community she seeks to represent.

“We have different stories and we come from different places,” says Mucarsel-Powell in the ad, which cuts to the faces of various people and families.

“But together, we are one community. I came to this country from Ecuador at 14 searching for a better life. With hard work, I found it. So I’ve always worked to give back.

“As associate dean at FIU, I helped those who couldn’t afford health care get it. I’m running for Congress now because our community needs someone ready to work for all of us.”

Mucarsel-Powell has also previously worked for non-profit organizations such as the Hope Center, Zoo Miami Foundation and the Coral Restoration Foundation.

The ad is part of a six-figure buy on cable for the month of August. It comes the same day Curbelo went up with an ad of his own, attempting to highlight his record of bipartisanship in Washington, D.C.

Mucarsel-Powell and the Democrats are hoping to flip this seat blue in November. Analysts say the race is a toss-up, and Mucarsel-Powell was named to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s “Red to Blue” program, which aims to support candidates in competitive districts throughout the midterms.

She’s competing with former naval officer Demetries Grimes for the Democratic nomination. The primary for CD 26, which covers portions of Miami-Dade County, will be held Aug. 28.

Mucarsel-Powell’s ad is below.

Florida Politics: “At POLITICO Florida forum, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell takes aim at Carlos Curbelo”

As Democrats hope to take back the House in November, South Florida Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo is facing challenges from both sides of the aisle as he fights for re-election.

Florida’s 26th Congressional District, which Curbelo represents, is one of 23 House districts that elected a Republican representative despite also voting for Hillary Clinton. That’s evidence of a base of Democratic support large enough to propel a Democrat to victory. Indeed, CD 26 is one of the Democrats’ most sought-after districts in 2018.

One of the contenders for the seat is Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, who is competing with Demetries Grimes for the Democratic nomination. She has been named to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s “Red to Blue” program, which aims to support candidates in competitive districts throughout the midterms.

Mucarsel-Powell was one of several congressional candidates who appeared at POLITICO’s “The Deciders” series, held at the InterContinental Hotel in Miami, and she didn’t hold back in her criticism of Curbelo.

Speaking with POLITICO’s Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman, she hit the congressman particularly hard on the issue of immigration. Mucarsel-Powell blamed Curbelo in part for Republicans’ failure to fix the immigration system.

“For someone that’s saying that he’s standing up for Dreamers, he’s really failed his community,” said Mucarsel-Powell. “And I think people won’t forget that.”

Democrats, of course, also failed to pass any major immigration reform despite having full control of government following the election of Barack Obama in 2008.

Mucarsel-Powell has firsthand experience with immigration, as she came to the United States after being born in Ecuador. “I’m an immigrant. I came here when I was 14 with my mom and my sisters. I have seen the struggles of getting through.”

She says that experience will shape her priorities, should she get elected to Congress. “I am completely committed to fighting for Dreamers, to looking at ways that we can actually find solutions for the 11 million [undocumented] immigrants that have been living in this country for decades without any sort of path to legalization and citizenship.”

She added, “The time is now.”

Gun control has also been near the top of Mucarsel-Powell’s issues list after the shooting death of her father. He was killed when Mucarsel-Powell was just 24 years old.

“Our communities down in south Dade have been identified as some of the communities with the highest risk of youth under the age of 18 to be killed by gun violence.” She said she would work to change that in Washington.

But Mucarsel-Powell says when talking to voters, the biggest issue is health care. “We have to put people over profit, and not profit over people, which is what the Republicans have been doing.”

Once again, she went after Curbelo for his votes on the Affordable Care Act, framing it as her motivating factor for entering the race.

“I really could not believe the arrogance of that vote. He stood with Washington, D.C. politicians, his party, and turned his back on the community. That’s when I knew I had to run.”

In addition to the support from the DCCC, Mucarsel-Powell has also been endorsed by Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Lois Frankel. In a district rated as a toss-up, that could just be enough to put Mucarsel-Powell over the top.

Read the original article here.

Miami New Times: “Five Terrible Recent Decisions From Miami GOP Congressman Carlos Curbelo”

Carlos Curbelo, the congressman who represents South Miami-Dade County and the Florida Keys, is up for reelection this year. He’s a Republican but is trying oh so desperately to convince voters he’s a moderate with a conscience. He’s not one of those mean, racist conservatives! He just hates taxes!

Curbelo’s shtick is nauseating. The obvious reason for his faux liberalism is that November is expected to see a Democratic wave election, and his district voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. He sits on something called the Problem-Solvers Caucus, which tries to find “common-sense, bipartisan” (read: needlessly complicated and watered-down) solutions to issues such as health-care reform and climate change. He hops on Twitter once every week or so to scold his critics on “both sides” for poo-pooing his attempts at finding “reasonable” solutions to Americans’ problems.

But this is all hogwash: According to FiveThirtyEight’s vote-tracking database, Curbelo has voted in line with Donald Trump’s platform 81 percent of the time since last January. Some of the decisions he’s made these past 18 months have been nothing short of cruel and heinous. Because Carlos is trotting out his “moderate” shtick again this week, allow us to explain why you shouldn’t believe him:

1. He voted for the failed Obamacare-repeal effort.

Before voting to rip health care away from millions of Americans — the sort of thing that would kill people, including your grandparents and children — two South Florida congressmen treated the decision with the relative seriousness of choosing their dates for senior prom.

As House Republicans rushed a vote on an amended Affordable Care Act repeal bill that the public has yet to read and the Congressional Budget Office has not yet reviewed, Carlos Curbelo and Mario Diaz-Balart remained two of the last congressional Republicans who had not yet revealed how they planned to vote. They each played coy with a vote that affects millions of lives — before each electing to vote for the measure around 2:20 p.m. today.

Both men represent districts that rely heavily on Obamacare subsidies: A study released earlier this year showed that Miami, as a whole, contains more Affordable Care Act patients than any other city in the nation. And for that reason, virtually all of Miami’s congresspeople have remained ambivalent about repealing the plan since Trump administration spokesman Sean Spicer first bragged about how little paper the American Health Care Act (ACHA or “Trumpcare”) used earlier this year.

2. He then wrote a nauseating op-ed scolding people for complaining about losing their health care.

Miami Rep. Carlos Curbelo is demonstrably full of shit. According to the Miami Herald’s Patricia Mazzei, before Curbelo voted to repeal Obamacare last week, the U.S. congressman recorded two video statements — one to explain if he voted for the measure and one to explain if he voted against it. Though the clip detailing why he hypothetically didn’t vote for the American Health Care Act (AHCA) hasn’t been released to the public, the mere fact that he recorded two statements suggests Curbelo himself has deep reservations about a bill he voted for. Or, worse, he simply doesn’t care at all and waited till the last minute for some lobbyist or campaign aide to tell him how to vote.

That fact makes the callous, condescending, and mean-spirited op-ed Curbelo wrote about his health-care vote in today’s Herald even more unconscionable and straight-up rude. Curbelo is a Republican who sits in a district that swung left and voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. Today he rolled out his new message to Democratic voters who might be upset with him for voting for Trumpcare: Stop asking questions, fuck off, and, in some cases, literally die.

Throughout his 716-word screed, Curbelo repeatedly chides his own constituents for raising basic concerns about a bill opposed by every major health-care and hospital association in America and which the Congressional Budget Office warns will kick an additional 24 million people off their insurance and cut a crippling $880 million from Medicaid funding for the nation’s poorest and most defenseless residents.

In fact, Curbelo’s op-ed doesn’t even mention those facts at all. He just lists a bunch of complaints he has about the current state of health care, while intentionally ignoring the fact that the bill he voted for will make each and every one of those things even worse. There is simply no way in hell he does not know this, especially given the fact that he literally recorded a video likely explaining all of these same things. Instead, he chided the “far left” for calling his vote to rip health coverage from children “cruel.”

Carlos Curbelo is the victim here, and everyone should stop making him feel bad.

3. He also voted for the GOP tax-cut package — and his family stands to gain money from that bill.

When Miami U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo enthusiastically backed the GOP’s tax bill, he conve niently failed to mention the deal would directly benefit his wife’s investment holdings. The Republican Tax Cuts and Jobs Act loosened fees on companies such as Captiol Gains LLC, which is registered to Curbelo’s home address in suburban Kendall under the name of his wife, Cecila Curbelo. The LLC lists earnings “between $100,000 to $1 million per year,” according to his financial disclosures.

Now the liberal-leaning Center for American Progress (CAP) has released data showing exactly how much Curbelo’s family stands to gain from his own tax vote — and it could be anywhere from $12,000 to $106,500, by CAP’s estimates.

According to CAP’s calculations, Curbelo’s vote saved his family anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000 in non-real-estate assets and another $2,000 to $6,500 in real-estate holdings. Of the 21 congresspeople listed in the memo, Curbelo was tied with Indiana Rep. Susan Brooks for last in terms of projected savings — Indiana Rep. Rey Hollingsworth stands to make an astounding $676,004 to $4.6 million from his own vote. Bradenton/Sarasota Rep. Vern Buchanan came in second (with estimated savings of $317,752 to $2.1 million), while nearby Central Florida Rep. Tom Rooney came in eighth.

4. He nearly hosted an event with a company that makes money off ICE detainees before New Times called him out on it.

The Virgina-based company Libre by Nexus has an obvious financial incentive to make sure the United States continues deporting increasing numbers of immigrants: It offers steeply priced bail bonds to people trapped in immigration court. Over the past few years, Libre by Nexus has been accused of exploiting immigrants trapped in the nation’s kangaroo-court deportation system, sending broke and defenseless immigrants into debt, and “preying” on undocumented people to make a quick buck.

Tomorrow at Florida International University, Miami-area Rep. Carlos Curbelo will host an immigration panel discussion sponsored by the company.

Curbelo — along with what a flyer for the event calls “leaders from the private, public, and academic sectors” — will speak at the panel from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Libre by Nexus has been promoting the event on its social media, and the company’s CEO, Mike Donovan, will serve as one of the panelists and get to spout his opinions about the immigration sector.

According to BuzzFeed, Donovan, now a Universalist reverend, has a lengthy criminal history, including convictions for grand larceny, writing bad checks, forgery, and obtaining money under false pretenses. (Libre told BuzzFeed that the charges stemmed from one bad-check-writing arrest when Donovan was 19.)

5. Now he’s pushing a bill that cuts back legal immigration and funds Trump’s border wall.

Well, the text of the “immigration compromise” that Curbelo fought so hard to draft is finally here, and as many people already predicted, it sucks. First, the good: The bill, if passed, would ban the Department of Homeland Security from separating parents from their children at the border.

Unfortunately, that’s basically the only “moderate” provision here. Though the bill technically provides a new path to citizenship for the nation’s 1.8 million Dreamers, that path is really difficult and circuitous: The bill creates a new, “merit-based” green card system for both Dreamers and other kinds of legal immigrants. Dreamers can apply for green cards five years after obtaining legal nonimmigrant status, but those cards will be awarded according to a “point-based” system that judges immigrants by education level, English proficiency, military service, and employment level. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients who can’t obtain green cards this way may renew their DACA status every six years but will not be given a path to citizenship.

The rest of the bill reads like a xenophobe’s wet dream. To find a “compromise” with the racists and immigration hawks, Curbelo apparently agreed to some really draconian cuts to the American immigration system. The bill trims the legal “diversity immigrant visa” program (AKA the “green-card lottery” system that Donald Trump hates) and allocates those 55,000 visas to the merit-based pool. It also eliminates portions of the family-reunification process by which immigrants can petition to bring relatives to the United States legally. (This affects married children of U.S. citizens and siblings of U.S. citizens.) The bill also allows ICE to hold detainees for longer periods of time and makes it more difficult to apply for asylum: Under the new rules, border officials would have to investigate fully whether asylum claims were “true” before letting people into the country.

The bill also allocates a whopping $25 billion more for U.S. “border security” despite the fact that Curbelo and his companion on this bill, Miami Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, often position themselves as budget hawks. More than $16 billion of that money is earmarked to build Donald Trump’s insane border wall. (The bill stipulates that if the $25 billion is rescinded, the funding for DACA visas also vanishes.) And the measure lets the National Guard assist in matters of border security.

NBC News: “With new ad, Miami Democrat puts pressure on Republican Carlos Curbelo on immigration”

A Democrat is turning the heat on a moderate Republican congressman fighting to keep his seat in the diverse district that voted for Clinton in 2016.

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell is running to be the Democratic representative in the August 28th primary to challenge GOP congressman Carlos Curbelo in a hotly contested Miami congressional district that experts are calling a toss-up. With a new online ad, she’s targeting a topic that hits at the issue vexing Republican moderates like Curbelo — passing immigration reform despite the Trump administration’s hardline stance.

The Democratic hopeful released an online ad Friday in which she tells the camera, “As an immigrant and as a Latina, I won’t rest until we have immigration reform that protects all immigrants.”

Mucarsel-Powell, who is not widely known, is running against fellow Democrat, Demetries Grimes in the August primary. She came from Ecuador as a young girl and worked her way through graduate school, ultimately working for two decades in non-profit work.

The Latina Democrat released the ad amid renewed attention to the Trump administration immigration policies, particularly the outcry over the policy separating children from their parents after the families have crossed the U.S. border.

Curbelo is among a group of House Republicans who are working to pass legislation that aims to halt the family separations and offer protections for Dreamers — undocumented young immigrants brought to the U.S. as children — while putting in for billions more in border protection.

But it’s uncertain whether Congress and ultimately President Trump will support the legislation.

Curbelo finds himself in an increasingly tenuous position if immigration reform continues to fail in Congress. His district voted him into office by a comfortable margin, 53 percent to 41 percent, but his district also voted for Hillary Clinton by 16 points, a clear sign that while Republicans in Curbelo’s district preferred a Republican, they didn’t want a Trump-style Republican.

A poll conducted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) says that if Mucarsel-Powell won the primary, she would be within striking distance of Curbelo, despite not being widely known.

In a statement released by the Mucarsel-Powell campaign, she tied her own experiences with immigration to her commitment to making progress for other immigrants. “As an immigrant, I know exactly what it feels like to be let down by Washington politicians,” said Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, appealing to a diverse electorate in Florida that includes Latinos from different countries.

Mucarsel-Powell presents an image of the immigrant “American Dream” that resonates with South Florida Latino voters, in contrast to the image presented by Trump’s emphasis on immigration enforcement and street gangs such as MS-13. Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran ran an ad earlier this year depicting an immigrant in a “hoodie” preying on a young, red-haired woman walking through her neighborhood. The ad provoked an uproar among immigrant rights advocates who said the ad was racist.

With the midterm elections moving closer, Republicans are increasingly faced with a decision to support Donald Trump or to reject him. So far, the President has boasted about losses and resignations by moderate Republicans who criticized him publicly. Famously, the President attacked his critics through Twitter, such as Arizona’s Jeff Flake, Tennessee’s Bob Corker, and others. Senator Sanford of South Carolina attracted the ire of the President just before his loss in the South Carolina primary, an indicator that the Congressional elections will become a referendum on Donald Trump’s presidency.

Democrats have turned up the heat in Curbelo’s district and his response has been to force his fellow Republicans’ hand on immigration reform, reminiscent of the same tactic that the Senator from his state, Marco Rubio, took by joining the “Gang of 8” with 7 other Republicans and Democrats who tried to find a compromise within their respective parties.

However, that strategy didn’t work out as well as Senator Rubio had hoped, and it later came to haunt him in the Republican primary election in 2016, where Donald Trump and others were able to point to the failure of immigration reform as either an indicator of Rubio’s inability to get the job done, or an indicator of his lack of commitment to a strong, hardline stance on immigration that appeals to many in the Republican base.

Recently, Mucarsel-Powell visited the Krome Processing Center in Miami-Dade County and spoke to several detained immigrants, vowing to not take money from private prison groups that house immigrant detainees.

Gregory Koger, a professor of political science at the University of Miami, says that Mucarsel-Powell’s low profile will force Curbelo to run on the merits of his own record.

“She has a clean record. She is a highly confident female Democrat with no skeletons to criticize,” said Koger. “Curbelo can’t run a negative campaign against his opponent.”

With the country focused once again on the issue of immigration, Koger says that Curbelo’s embrace of the issue will be an important mark of how constituents evaluate his success in office. If the current attempt to achieve immigration legislation fails, Curbelo will be facing questions in the more politically moderate district. “His inability to get a vote on a clean DACA bill is really going to hurt him,” said Koger.

Read the original article here.

Florida Politics: “Florida Young Dems endorse Sean Shaw, Jeremy Ring, 11 congressional candidates”

Sean Shaw and Jeremy Ring have gotten the backing of the Florida Young Democrats in their quests for the Florida attorney general and chief financial officer posts, as have 11 candidates in their congressional races.

The YoungDems did not endorse in the governor’s race, the agriculture commissioner’s race, or 16 other congressional races, including several in which incumbent Democrats are seeking re-election, notably U.S. Reps. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Al Lawson, and Stephanie Murphy.

Shaw, the state representative from Tampa, faces attorney Ryan Torrens in the August 28 Democratic primary. The winner would face one of several possible Republican nominees, state Rep. Jay Fant of Jacksonville, state Rep. Frank White of Pensacola, and former Circuit Judge Ashley Moody of Tampa.

Ring, the former state senator, is unopposed among Democrats heading toward a November showdown with incumbent Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis.

The Florida Young Democrats’ board recommends endorsements, and the candidates were voted on at the annual young Democrats convention, May 18-20 in Miami, by the organization membership.

The organization said it did not endorse if there were two or more Democrats and the vote was close and the candidates were all considered strong progressives, or if the candidates did not meet the organization’s vision on issues. The organization’s bylaws require two-thirds vote backings from both the executive board and the voting membership.

The congressional endorsements went to former U.S. Ambassador Nancy Soderberg in Florida’s 6th Congressional District; Sanjay Patel in Florida’s 8th Congressional District; U.S. Rep. Darren Soto in Florida’s 9th Congressional District; U.S. Rep. Val Demings in Florida’s 10th Congressional District; U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist in Florida’s 13th Congressional District; Andrew Learned in Florida’s 15th Congressional District; David Shapiro in Florida’s 16th Congressional District; U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch in Florida’s 22nd Congressional District; U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson in Florida’s 24th Congressional District; Mary Barzee Flores in Florida’s 25th Congressional District; and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell in Florida’s 26th Congressional District.

“Our priorities in races were trying to support young people and trying to support candidates who had messages that support young people,” said Florida Young Dems President Jake Sanders.

“We’re endorsing our own; that means we’re endorsing some young people against people who are favorites,” he added. “We want to make sure that people who speak to youth issues get recognized for it.”

In the governor’s race, which features two Young Dems, Chris King and Andrew Gillum, along with Philip Levine, Gwen Graham and newly-filed candidate Jeff Greene, “We have people on our executive board for every single candidate,” Sanders said, adding, “Except no one for Jeff Greene.”

In one race – Florida’s 18th Congressional District – the Florida Young Dems decided not to endorse because Sanders has been involved in the campaign of Lauren Baer, who faces Pam Keith in the primary.

Read the original article here.

E&E News: “Republican promises climate action — if he wins”

It’s not surprising that the race for the southernmost district of Florida is between two Hispanics who have made climate change one of their key issues.

Like the entire state of Florida, the 26th District has become a purple battleground where voters, Republicans and Democrats alike, worry about rising seas. Much of the district felt the punch of Hurricane Irma last year as it swept over the low-lying Keys and inundated island roads.

Elections can be as unpredictable as a storm’s path. Hillary Clinton won the district by 16 percentage points in 2016, even as its Republican congressman, Carlos Curbelo, sailed to victory with a 12-point advantage.

This year promises to be rockier.

Democrats have a 6 percent advantage in voter registration. The Cook Political Report calls the race a toss-up, and Democrats see the district as a cornerstone in their effort to grab the 23 seats they need to take control of the House in November. It stretches from Miami to the tip of the Keys.

Curbelo, a 38-year-old born to Cuban immigrants, is facing a tough opponent in Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, a 46-year-old born in Ecuador who is expected to win the Democratic primary in August. A relative newcomer to politics, Mucarsel-Powell has spent 20 years working for nonprofits and colleges. She already has the backing of prominent Democrats, including former Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida.

In 2016, the district hosted one of the most expensive races in the nation. It promises to be the same this year. Democratic donors are already pouring money in. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee reserved $2 million in TV and radio ads in Miami, and a group of New York progressive donors — dubbed the House Victory Project — identified the race as one of 10 to support, according to The New York Times. The latest campaign finance filings show that Curbelo had about $2 million on hand, compared with $700,000 for Mucarsel-Powell.

Both Curbelo and Mucarsel-Powell have spoken passionately about environmental issues, particularly climate change. Voters see them as being in agreement on the issue, said Susan MacManus, a political scientist at the University of South Florida.

‘We are ground zero’
Co-founder of the Climate Solutions Caucus, Curbelo credits himself for bringing together 78 bipartisan lawmakers for action on climate change.

“When I arrived here in Congress, there were maybe two or three Republicans willing to talk about the issue and acknowledge it,” Curbelo said in an interview. “And today we have 39 Republicans on the record acknowledging that climate change is a serious challenge and that Congress has a role in addressing it. We’ve really helped establish a bipartisan dialogue based on science and facts on this issue.”

His critics, though, say the Climate Solutions Caucus has not gone far enough and merely provides cover for Republicans in close races. They point to the newest members of the caucus: Of the three Republicans who joined earlier this month, two are in toss-up races, according to Cook.

In an interview, Mucarsel-Powell said that the caucus has failed to introduce any climate legislation. “I think it’s very typical of Curbelo to say a lot of things that sound great,” she said. “We need action immediately. We see flooding with 2 inches of rain. We see it around the coast. There was horrendous destruction in Monroe County. We are ground zero.”

Curbelo scored 23 percent on the League of Conservation Voters’ scorecard, down 20 percent from last year. The drop is attributed in part to the congressman’s absence during a number of key votes last year in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

But Mucarsel-Powell said, “I would expect someone in a climate caucus to have an upgrade on the rating.”

The LCV is staying out of the race, and a spokesperson declined to comment. In the past, environmental groups have disagreed about whether to back green Republicans. In 2016, the Sierra Club worked against Curbelo and backed Joe Garcia, the Democrat whom Curbelo had unseated two years prior (Climatewire, Jan. 3).

Asked about his LCV rating, Curbelo told the Miami Herald earlier this year: “I don’t know and I don’t care. I don’t follow NRA ratings, chamber ratings, League of Conservation Voters ratings. I just try to do the right thing on every vote and I usually end up finding out about my scores later come campaign season.”

Mucarsel-Powell has personal experience with climate change. She worked at the Coral Restoration Foundation for three years. She has been scuba diving in Florida since 1997, she said, and in recent years, she could “really see the reefs are not as lush as they used to be.”

“It is very clear,” she said. “One of the things that I saw were farms of corals that are growing … and you can see that there is hope — things that we can actually do to address the effects of climate and the warming of our oceans.”

For his part, Curbelo pointed to last summer, when the caucus blocked an amendment that would have eliminated a requirement for the Department of Defense to report on military base exposure to sea-level rise. “We defeated [it by] voting as a bloc,” he said. “Now our hope is that this caucus can become an ideas factory — promote good legislation, not just oppose [bad legislation].”

Asked how far he would go to fight climate change — and whether he could support carbon pricing or caps on emissions from power plants — he said the caucus has been looking at all of those ideas.

“I am personally biased toward a market-based solution putting the consumer in charge of something,” he said.

‘You could easily lose’
The Climate Solutions Caucus, which was formed in February 2016, has had briefings on the impact of climate change on tourism, expanding energy efficiency and coastal impacts, according to the Citizens’ Climate Lobby. “We are figuring out what could be viable here, if not this Congress, then soon after,” Curbelo said.

Danny Richter of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby pushed back against accusations that the caucus is ineffective or merely an attempt to greenwash Republicans in moderate districts.

“In our experience, the caucus has been both active and transformational,” he said. “I think the people who are most likely to throw out that greenwashing argument were more likely to say getting something like the caucus was impossible. Now that the impossible is achieved, they are attacking it.”

Mucarsel-Powell claimed she would push much harder. She would “not stop working to make an introduction to end subsidies for fossil fuel companies,” she said, adding that a coalition of both sides is necessary. “I know it’s not easy. I know it’s complicated, but it is possible,” she said.

MacManus doesn’t think Curbelo is vulnerable to attacks on his climate positions. Republicans and Democrats in Florida tend to agree on environmental issues, she said, because the changing climate is happening right in front of them. A poll by the University of South Florida found that Miami respondents said rising sea levels are a top environmental concern.

Still, Curbelo has voted against environmental stances in a number of bills, including to open up oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (as part of the tax reform proposal), in support of the Keystone XL pipeline and against clean energy subsidies.

Curbelo’s office addressed Arctic oil drilling by pointing to Curbelo’s interview with Yale University: “I’m upset about that provision as well, and it’s not the only provision in the tax bill that I would have deleted if I could have written it myself, but when you’re weighing broad comprehensive legislation such as an overhaul of the tax code, you really have to consider the bill in its entirety,” Curbelo said.

Curbelo envisioned the Climate Solutions Caucus in three stages, his office added. The first was to bring people together to talk and educate. The second — and current stage — is opposing anti-climate legislation. The third is proposing proactive bills.

Last week, the caucus sent a letter — its first — to the Appropriations Committee to oppose any policy riders that undermine action on climate change.

Is the letter an indication that the caucus will take a stronger stance?

“Yeah,” Curbelo said. “It shows we are prepared to engage in the appropriations process if we believe there is any attempt to undermine policies that mitigate policies. It is kind of a warning that we are watching.”

Politicos, meanwhile, are watching his race.

Recent polling shows that Curbelo has about a 5-point advantage, within the margin of error, according to MacManus.

“If a Republican holds on in this district, the pressure is on other [Republicans] to be more pro-environment,” she said. “Brian Mast [a GOP congressman in Florida] is in another competitive district, and even Matt Gaetz [R-Fla.] in the Panhandle. I think what you are going to see if he wins here, environmentalists will point to other parts of the state [and say] if you ignore the environment, you could easily lose.”

Read the original article here.

Roll Call: “Six Months Out: The 10 Most Vulnerable House Incumbents”

With the House GOP on defense in a difficult national environment, the 10 most vulnerable incumbents six months out from Election Day are all Republicans.

Republicans have pickup opportunities in November, but this is a ranking of the incumbents most likely to lose, not of seats most likely to flip — so there are no open seats on the list.

The biggest change from when we last compiled the list, a year out from Election Day? The most vulnerable member, California Rep. Darrell Issa, is retiring, sliding Iowa Rep. Rod Blum into the top spot. Blum was near the top of the list for most of 2016 — and then he won. But both Republicans and Democrats agree he’s in trouble this year.

Virginia Rep. Barbara Comstock also moves up the list, while Colorado Rep. Mike Coffman, Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo and California Rep. Steve Knight make the cut this time in part because of the difficulty of holding their districts, all of which Hillary Clinton carried. Pennsylvania Rep. Keith Rothfus makes his debut here, thanks to redistricting.

Some familiar names shifted around. New York Rep. John J. Faso Jr. slid from third to fifth, while Minnesota Rep. Jason Lewis fell from second to fourth. New York Rep. Claudia Tenney moved up from seventh to sixth.

As always, this list is compiled after consultation with strategists from both sides of the aisle and the race ratings from Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales.

1. Rep. Rod Blum, R-Iowa

Blum’s district is the type of seat Democrats want back in their column. (Voters here backed Trump, but Obama carried it twice by double digits). Democrats think they have the right candidate. State Rep. Abby Finkenauer still has to win the primary, but she is already up on TV with an ad featuring her dad, a retired pipe fitter. Finkenauer outraised Blum in the first quarter of the year by $180,000, but the incumbent still has a cash on hand advantage. Blum could also be dogged by a report that he violated House Ethics rules. He did not disclose that he owned a marketing company, The Associated Press reported. Blum said it was an “administrative oversight.”

2. Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-Va

Even as one of the GOP’s stronger incumbents (she over-performed Trump by double digits last cycle), Comstock moves up on the list because of the district she’s in and the national environment. She’s broken with her party on some votes that would have hurt federal workers in her district, and she clashed with Trump (on camera) earlier this year when she told him, “We don’t need a government shutdown.” She voted against the GOP health care plan. But on other issues, such as the GOP tax overhaul, she’s stuck with leadership. That could be a vulnerability in an affluent district where many voters claim state and local tax deductions. Comstock starts with a hefty financial advantage, while Democrats still have a crowded primary to get through. But all of the top contenders have resources and the national party will make sure the nominee is well-equipped heading into the fall.

3. Rep. Keith Rothfus, R-Pa.

If not for a new congressional map, Rothfus wouldn’t be on this list. But the state Supreme Court imposed new district lines for 2018, and his district in southwestern Pennsylvania shifted from one Trump carried with 59 percent of the vote, to a seat Trump would have taken by 2 points with 49 percent. Rothfus represents around half of the new district. His tough spot is made even more difficult with newly elected Democratic Rep. Conor Lamb challenging him under the new lines. Lamb will benefit from a sizable war chest and high name recognition from the hotly contested March special election in a neighboring district that garnered immense media attention. He has $1.7 million in the bank, slightly more than Rothfus’ $1.6 million.

4. Rep. Jason Lewis, R-Minn.

Lewis moves down a few spots but remains vulnerable in a rematch with Democrat Angie Craig. Besides a more favorable national environment, Craig’s biggest advantage this year may be that the same third-party candidate who cut into her margin last year isn’t running. Lewis is by no means the flamethrower in Congress that his radio talk show past would have suggested. But Democrats see plenty to attack him on, starting with his vote to repeal the 2010 health care law. Lewis ended the first quarter with slightly more money in the bank than Craig.

5. Rep. John J. Faso, R-N.Y.

Faso is still looking vulnerable, even though it’s not clear whom he will face in November. Even though Trump carried this upstate New York district, Democrats view it as a target since it voted for Obama twice. Democrats are confident a strong contender will emerge from the crowded primary. Five of the seven challengers have more than $400,000 in the bank. Lawyer Antonio Delgado had more cash on hand than Faso. Some Republicans note the Democrats may be pushed too far to the left in the primary (which has started to happen on issues such as gun violence). Faso’s broken with his party and voted against the tax overhaul, but his vote for the GOP health care bill is still expected to be a major issue in the general election.

6. Rep. Claudia Tenney, R-N.Y.

Some Republicans note that part of Tenney’s vulnerability is self-inflicted, pointing to controversial statements like saying mass murderers “often end up being Democrats.” Trump carried the 22nd District by double digits, but Tenney won her first term by a narrower 6-point margin in a race with a third party candidate. Tenney is now facing a well-funded challenger in state Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi, who has more cash on hand. House Majority PAC, a Democratic super PAC, is already on the airwaves, attacking Tenney for supporting the GOP health care bill. Tenney said she has been outraised before and brushed off the controversial remarks by saying she is in line with her district.

7. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla.

The South Florida congressman is making the list for the first time this cycle, in large part because of the blueness of his district and his surprising vote to repeal the 2010 health care law. He generally isn’t afraid to buck his party, whether taking a stand on climate change or dropping the word “impeachment” in regard to the president. It remains to be seen how strong Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell is at the congressional level (she lost a state Senate race in 2016). Curbelo started with a cash advantage and he vastly over-performed Trump in 2016, even if it was by defeating a flawed former congressman.

8. Rep. Steve Knight, R-Calif.

With retirements opening up the list, Knight is a new addition. A former state legislator, he was re-elected to a second term in 2016 by 6 points, besting lawyer Bryan Caforio. Knight is now on the NRCC’s Patriot Program. Caforio is running again, along with Democrats Katie Hill, who runs a nonprofit, and volcanologist Jess Phoenix. Democrats see both Caforio and Hill as strong challengers, and both have more than $500,000 on hand. Knight has $1 million in the bank. Hill did outraise Knight in the first quarter of the year, bringing in $421,000 to his $347,000.

9. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif.

It’s possible Rohrabacher might not face a Democrat in November, but he still looks vulnerable in this Clinton district. He’s up against formidable opponents from both parties. Former Orange County GOP chairman Scott Baugh’s entrance into the race made it possible that two Republicans could advance to the general. Under California’s system, the top two vote-getters advance regardless of party. On the Democratic side, both businessman Harley Rouda and stem cell researcher Hans Keirstead have launched viable challenges. This district could also be one of the few where an investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 election could actually have an impact. Rohrabacher has been known for his pro-Russia stances and ties to Vladimir Putin, and it remains to be seen whether that could hurt him should Russian meddling continue to make headlines.

10. Mike Coffman, R-Colo.

Republicans believe Coffman is one of their strongest incumbents since he’s weathered tough races before. Like Comstock, his district’s makeup and a national environment favoring Democrats make him vulnerable. And this cycle, Democrats believe they have a strong challenger in Iraq War veteran Jason Crow (despite some headlines about the national party’s involvement in the primary). Coffman has a reputation as a tireless campaigner, so the question for him is whether the national environment will overwhelm his personal brand.