Miami Herald: “If the Democrats oust Curbelo, then they’re on the road to recovery”


After recent wins in Virginia, New Jersey and Alabama, Democrats are euphoric about the opportunity the 2018 elections present the party at the local, state and national levels. There’s particular focus is on Congress, where Democrats are only 24 seats away from gaining a majority. Republicans are faced with popular incumbents retiring, meaning that untested candidates will have to overcome the unpopularity of President Trump.

Here in Miami-Dade County, Democrats have a unique opportunity to pick up two of those seats.

Almost all the attention and money has been on District 27, where U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is retiring after 24 years. This once-in-a-generation opening has attracted most of the Democratic bench. The district lies in the heart of Miami-Dade County, and with a plethora of well-qualified candidates this race is sucking up all the oxygen in the Democratic tank. However the nominee will have a cakewalk in the general election and, barring any major screw-ups, should be able to gain the seat easily.

The real test for Miami-Dade Democrats — the place where it needs to plant the flag and win — is in Congressional District 26, currently held by Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo. If national Democrats want to take control of the U.S. House of Representatives, it starts with a win in this district. It is literally the bluest district held by a Republican incumbent, largely because the Democratic candidate in 2016 was weakened by a bruising primary. In the presidential election, Hillary Clinton carried this South Dade district by 16 points, which usually should be enough to carry her party’s congressional candidate. District 26 even voted Democratic in the 2010 and 2014 gubernatorial races.

The Democrats have a seemingly qualified fresh face in Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, who immigrated to the United States as a young girl from Ecuador. She looks like the girl next door and speaks perfect English. Her professional background is in the not-for-profit sector, and since 2003 she has worked at the FIU School of Health. All this sounds nice and rosy. To date Mucarsel-Powell has raised almost $200,000, but she is going to have to raise a lot more to beat Curbelo.

Curbelo has served credibly and has been extremely clever politically. Taking a page out of Ros- Lehtinen’s playbook, he has carefully cultivated an image of being a moderate Republican, even to the point of working on climate change initiatives with former Democratic Congressman Patrick Murphy. At last report, Curbelo raised almost $2 million, and Democrats have to assume that the Republican Party will get him all the money he needs.

The problem with Curbelo is that when the chips are down, he votes with the administration — to the tune of 84 percent of the time. More important, he voted to abolish the Affordable Care Act without a meaningful replacement. This is most unfortunate because his constituents made up the second largest number of people in the nation dependent on the ACA.

Naturally, Curbelo voted for the tax bill that, while popular now, will only further increase the disparity between the 1 percent of wealthy Americans and the rest of the country. In a rare moment of glibness, Curbelo even called Social Security a Ponzi scheme. When Trump really needs him, Curbelo will drink the Kool-Aid with his fellow Republicans.

Memo to the Democratic Party and donor class: You must win this race. Why? The U.S. House of Representatives is a hierarchical body. Unlike the Senate, where every member could be important, in the House power flows from the top down. The speaker and his party control all the committees and the agenda of the institution. The speaker represents the majority party, and if you believe there has to be a check on Trump, you need to help change the majority from Republican to Democrat.

At this critical time, the only thing that matters in Congress is not the individual but whether there is a D or R after their name. Unfortunate, but true. So Miami-Dade Democrats, you will have done nothing unless you win both these Congressional seats — and you need to pay special attention to the one in South Dade.

Miami Herald: “Curbelo to donate contributions from lawmaker who called a former aide his ‘soul mate'”


Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo will donate a portion of at least $6,000 in campaign contributions from a Republican lawmaker who is drawing national attention after using taxpayer funds to settle a sexual harassment case and referring to the former aide who accused him of harassment as his “soul mate.”

Curbelo’s 2018 opponent, Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, demanded that he return the money from Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Pat Meehan.

“For years, Congressman Curbelo has received thousands of dollars in campaign cash from Congressman Pat Meehan, who covered up his own history of sexual harassment with our tax dollars,” said Mucarsel-Powell campaign manager Madalyn Blackburn in a statement. “Curbelo’s silence on his colleague’s abuse of power, and his failure to rid himself of this tainted money, raise serious questions about the ethical standards Curbelo holds himself to when his contributors are involved.”

A Curbelo staffer said Thursday he plans to return the funds from the 2018 cycle to a women’s organization in South Florida.

Curbelo received the contributions from Meehan’s leadership PAC, a vehicle for lawmakers to support one another with campaign funds. Federal Election Commission records show that Curbelo received a $2,000 donation in June 2017 from Meehan’s leadership PAC called Patriots Leading a Majority. Curbelo also received $1,000 in September 2016, $1,000 in October 2016, $1,000 in November 2016 and $1,000 in March 2015.

Meehan’s leadership PAC doled out $90,500 to federal candidates during the 2016 cycle and $29,000 so far in the 2018 cycle. At least one other recipient, Colorado Republican Rep. Mike Coffman, said he would return donations from Meehan’s leadership PAC.

Curbelo’s leadership PAC, What a Country PAC (WACPAC), donated $1,000 to Meehan during the 2016 cycle.

Meehan was removed from the House Ethics Committee, a panel that investigates sexual harassment complaints on Capitol Hill, after the New York Times reported that he used taxpayer funds to settle his own harassment case. Meehan then went public, producing a letter to his former aide that thanked God “for putting you into my life.” The former aide accused Meehan of retaliating against her after she started dating someone else. Meehan says he’s running for reelection and denies harassing the aide, though he did refer to her as his “soul mate” at one point.

A slew of lawmakers nationwide, including Democratic Sen. Al Franken and and Republican Florida state Sen. Jack Latvala, have resigned in recent months after various allegations of sexual harassment.

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Facing South Florida: One-On-One With Debbie Mucarsel-Powell

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell is the Democrat running for Congress against Carlos Curbelo in one of the most closely watched Congressional races in the country.

Facing South Florida host Jim DeFede sits down with Mucarsel-Powell to discuss her positions, the sexual harassment wave spreading through Congress as well as look at the tax reform plan Curbelo helped write that will likely be passed next week.

Miami Herald: “We support Mucarsel-Powell for Congress”


“One year ago, millions of women from Miami to Anchorage took to the streets to make a clear statement: Donald Trump did not represent their values, and they would not stay silent.

The #MeToo movement gave voice to women everywhere who have endured the daily humiliation of sexual harassment and abuse — in the media, in entertainment, in politics. The heroes of this movement are the millions of women who have stood up to say that when women speak up, we change our country’s future.

At this critical moment, we applaud the groundswell of women who have stepped up to run for office in 2018. Their ability to solve tough problems and bring people together is exactly what we need to get our country back on track. Just as important, they bring a critical perspective and experience that have been absent from the public discourse for too long.

One of these women, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, is running in Miami and represents everything we marched for in 2017. As a mother, she has raised her family, while improving healthcare access in this community. As a Latina immigrant, she has lived the American dream — we can count on her to protect all our immigrant families. That perspective is missing from our Congressional representation and is a crucial perspective for the women in Florida who are working every day to make ends meet, afford quality healthcare, and ensure that our children are prepared for the future.”

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Miami Herald: “The Congressional Hispanic Caucus spurned Carlos Curbelo, now they’re backing his opponent”


The Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ political arm is gearing up against Rep. Carlos Curbelo after the Miami Republican caused a stir when he unsuccessfully tried to join the all-Democratic caucus last year.

On Wednesday, BOLD PAC announced that it’s backing Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, Curbelo’s Democratic opponent, for a Miami-to-Key West seat that is the most Democratic-leaning district in the country represented by a Republican running for reelection in 2018. BOLD PAC’s endorsement is a potential source of campaign cash for Mucarsel-Powell as she seeks to unseat Curbelo, a prolific fundraiser himself.

“I am honored to receive the endorsement of the CHC’s BOLD PAC in my campaign for Florida’s 26th Congressional District,” Mucarsel-Powell said in a statement. “We need real leadership in South Florida on issues impacting our families the most: expanding access to affordable health care and a tax reform bill that helps, not hurts, working families. That’s a far cry from our current Congressman, who has put his party’s leadership in Washington ahead of the needs of hardworking people in Miami. As an immigrant, I’ve lived the American Dream and I’ll work every day to make sure that American Dream is alive and well for South Floridians.”

Mucarsel-Powell is the second Miami-area candidate to receive BOLD PAC’s blessing. State Sen. José Javier Rodríguez, one of a number of Democrats seeking to replace retiring Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, won their endorsement in September.

“As a Latina and an immigrant, Debbie knows exactly what it means to fight for the right to live the American Dream. Unlike her opponent, she shares our values of passing a clean Dream Act, expanding access to healthcare, and improving the lives of hard-working Florida families,” said BOLD PAC chairman Rep. Tony Cardenas, D-Calif. “There is no doubt she is the progressive voice the families of South Florida deserve and a fighter they can always count on to stand up for them in Congress. BOLD PAC is proud to support Debbie Mucarsel-Powell in her campaign to flip Florida’s 26th Congressional District.”

Curbelo tried to join the caucus for months in 2017, privately meeting with lawmakers and joining the organization’s advisory council. But Curbelo’s membership application stalled, and he took his grievances with the caucus public.

“It is truly shameful the Congressional Hispanic Caucus has decided to build a wall around the organization to exclude Hispanic-Americans who aren’t registered in the Democratic Party,” Curbelo said after his membership was denied. “This sends a powerful and harmful message of discrimination, bigotry, and division. Unbelievably, petty partisan interests have led the CHC to formally endorse the segregation of American Hispanics. It is a dark day on Capitol Hill.”

Mucarsel-Powell, a former associate dean of fundraising at FIU and a consultant for non-profits, is the only Democrat raising serious money in an attempt to unseat Curbelo.

After BOLD PAC announced its endorsement, Curbelo spokeswoman Joanna Rodriguez issued a statement:

“The Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ extreme partisanship has led them to embrace bigotry and discrimination against any Hispanic American who isn’t a card-carrying member of the Democratic Party,” Rodriguez said. “The Congressman feels sorry for any candidate who feels desperate enough to embrace the endorsement of individuals who promote bigotry and discrimination against fellow Americans of Hispanic descent. Despite many of the caucus’ members efforts to segregate and divide America’s Hispanic community, Carlos will not stop working with Chairwoman (Michelle) Lujan (Grisham) and others to find a fair solution for Dreamers.”

Read the original article here.

Miami Herald: “Curbelo challenger Debbie Mucarsel-Powell gets help from national Democrats”


The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is going all in for Debbie Mucarsel-Powell.

On Wednesday the DCCC announced that Mucarsel-Powell, a consultant for nonprofits who is challenging Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo, is one of 18 Democrats nationwide to land in the organization’s Red to Blue program. The program highlights candidates in competitive districts who have shown an ability to fundraise and build a viable campaign operation.

“As a working mom, a Latina and an immigrant to the United States, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell will fight every day to ensure that the American dream – which she’s lived – exists for her kids and the kids of so many others in South Florida,” said DCCC Chairman Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M. “And it’s clear what’s at stake for South Florida families – Debbie has centered her candidacy from day one on protecting access to high quality, affordable healthcare for the families she will represent. Debbie is running a people-driven, grassroots campaign built on earning voters’ trust and their votes this November.”

The Red to Blue designation is not an explicit endorsement from the DCCC, though Mucarsel-Powell is the only candidate challenging Curbelo who has raised a significant amount of money. Mucarsel-Powell raised $177,048 through the latest fundraising quarter, according to Federal Election Commission records, though she trails Curbelo’s $1.7 million raised during the 2018 cycle so far.

Curbelo won reelection against former Rep. Joe Garcia in 2016 despite representing a Miami-to-Key West district that voted for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump by 16 percentage points, the largest margin of victory for Clinton in a district represented by a Republican running for reelection in 2018.

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Politico: “The top 10 House races to watch in 2018”


House Republicans are in trouble heading into 2018.

President Donald Trump’s unpopularity, voter distaste of Washington and a highly energized Democratic base have combined into a toxic brew for the GOP and its 24-seat House majority. A record number of Democratic candidates are piling into swing districts from Southern California to northern Maine and from the Florida Keys to suburban Seattle, and Republicans trail by double-digits in many national House polls.

But ultimately, the battle for the House is a district-by-district affair. And a handful of seats scattered across the country reveal the trends that will dominate those battleground races for the next year, including huge Democratic primaries, Republicans’ growing suburban problem, and the outbreak of sexual misconduct allegations roiling more and more campaigns every week.

Here are POLITICO’s 10 most important House races of 2018 — and why they matter in the battle for the House:

Illinois’ 6th District: Revenge of the suburbs

GOP Rep. Peter Roskam won reelection handily in 2016, but his Chicagoland district saw a big shift, with President Donald Trump losing it by 7 points after Mitt Romney carried the seat by 8 points in 2012. And since Trump took office, elections in Virginia, New Jersey and a handful of congressional special elections around the country have seen local candidates fall to or even below Trump’s levels in the suburbs.

That’s a big warning sign for Roskam and other Republicans in suburbs of New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, Kansas City and more heading into 2018. Democrats have to wade through a crowded primary before they face Roskam. Kelly Mazeski, who picked up an EMILY’s List endorsement and raised the most money last quarter, is leading the pack, though anything can happen in a field of seven candidates. But even a bruised Democratic opponent may not stem the tide against Roskam and other suburban congressmen.

“Increasingly socially progressive, suburban voters have been drifting away from the GOP for years,” said Ian Russell, former Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee deputy executive director. “Trump dramatically accelerated this movement, and the tax bill will only further alienate them.”

Utah’s 4th District: The reach seats

Democrats are not just targeting suburban seats, though. Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams is among a growing cadre of Democratic candidates hoping to turn Trump country blue, along with Paul Davis, a former candidate for governor of Kansas.

In Utah, McAdams won his first mayor’s race in 2012, when Mormon Republicans were out in force to back Mitt Romney. And while Romney got 60 percent in Salt Lake County, McAdams got 55 percent. “I have a reputation as someone who gets things done by working across party lines,” McAdams said, adding that he expects the same ticket-splitting in his bid against GOP Rep. Mia Love.

These campaigns will look different than some “resistance”-style Democratic candidates around the country. Davis kicked off his campaign for Kansas’ open 2nd District seat by saying he wouldn’t support Nancy Pelosi as speaker because “we need new leadership in both political parties,” he said. That gamble, which positions him outside national Democrats, hasn’t hurt him in Washington. The DCCC has already listed him as a top-tier candidate, and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer’s PAC donated to Davis’ campaign.

Virginia’s 10th District: Enormous Democratic primaries

Trump inspired a wave of candidates to run for Congress, including a lot of first-timers who have nevertheless raised big money in 2017. Now, many of them are preparing to battle one another in crowded primaries that could leave the winners weakened and drained of resources.

No district exemplifies the coming internecine fights quite like GOP Rep. Barbara Comstock’s, whose Northern Virginia seat is trending increasingly blue. Five Democrats finished the last fundraising quarter with over $150,000 apiece and have established different bases of support. The Democratic veterans group VoteVets is backing Dan Helmer, while state legislators are supporting state Sen. Jennifer Wexton. Lindsey Davis Stover and Alison Friedman, both former Obama officials, have tapped those networks for help. Democrats argue that primaries gin up excitement and participation, but Republicans will be on watch for when these races inevitably get negative.

California’s 39th District: The most expensive race of 2018?

GOP Rep. Ed Royce’s district has never been a top Democratic target before — but Hillary Clinton carried it in 2016, and Democratic candidates have flooded in, including some who are spending their own personal fortunes.

Six candidates running in this diversifying Southern California seat raised more than $4.1 million in one quarter last year, and there are still more than five months to go until the primary. Two Democrats — Andy Thorburn, a health insurance executive, and Gil Cisneros, a former naval officer who won the lottery — are self-funding much of their bids, while Mai Khanh Tran, a physician, has been endorsed by EMILY’s List. Meanwhile, Royce, a committee chairman, has been stockpiling campaign money for years preparing for the possibility of a strong challenge.

All signs point to record spending here, as Democrats hope to chip into the Republican stronghold in suburban Southern California — and the cost of TV advertising in suburbs of major cities like Philadelphia, Seattle, Miami and Phoenix will drive up the price of campaigning in dozens of other districts around the country. So don’t forget your wallet.

Florida’s 26th District: Can a moderate Hispanic Republican survive Trump?

Hillary Clinton won this Miami enclave by 16 points, the largest margin in a district controlled by a Republican. Meanwhile, moderate Cuban-American Rep. Carlos Curbelo won it by just under 12 points. Curbelo, who was first elected in 2014, weathered $6 million in outside spending against him in this blue-leaning seat last year by creating distance from Trump.

But Democrats hope that distance will evaporate now that Trump is the head of his party and the GOP is forced to defend 23 districts that Trump lost in 2016 — starting with Curbelo’s. Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, who picked up an EMILY’s List endorsement, doesn’t face a contested primary, which felled Democrats’ favorite candidate last cycle. Whether Curbelo’s personal brand and efforts to separate from the president still work during the Trump administration will be a key question deciding the 2018 elections.

Minnesota’s 8th District: Democrats in Trumpland

There is no question Democrats will be on offense in 2018. But under the radar, Republicans are optimistic about competing for a handful of Democratic-held seats that Trump won handily during the last election.

Rep. Rick Nolan (D-Minn.) is used to this, having faced tough races in each of the last three elections. Some of his colleagues, like Pennsylvania Rep. Matt Cartwright, saw their districts turn sharply against their party in 2016 and will face tough challenges for the first time. Either way, their rural, predominantly white districts are quickly trending away from Democrats.

Nolan still takes a progressive posture on some policies, like supporting Medicare for all. “I’m confident about my view on all of those issues and I don’t retreat from them, even though you’re getting pressure to retreat,” Nolan said. And Republican Pete Stauber, a St. Louis County commissioner, beat Nolan in fundraising last quarter. Cartwright, who was first elected in 2012, hasn’t faced a serious challenger before, and now he’s up against John Chrin, who nearly outraised him last quarter. If Republicans can win a handful of these districts, it will make Democrats’ efforts to net 24 seats and retake the House all the more difficult.

Texas’ 7th District: Are you awake yet?

Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas) has won his last nine congressional races by more than 56 percent, but the ground is moving underneath him and all signs point to him not recognizing that yet. He hasn’t hired a full-time campaign manager, The New York Times reported. And last quarter, he was outraised by not one, but two Democratic challengers — Alex Triantaphyllis and Lizzie Pannill Fletcher.

“Culberson has not been engaged with this community,” Triantaphyllis said. “Republicans do have reason to be concerned.”

One of congressional Republicans’ big concerns heading into 2018 is whether candidates who have never faced a tough race before understand how bad the political environment is — and how it could end their careers. Culberson’s sluggishness mirrors former Florida Rep. John Mica, who also didn’t build out a campaign machinery to combat Stephanie Murphy, who beat him by 3 points last year.

Nevada’s 4th District: Sexual harassment in 2018

Three battleground seats were upended by sexual harassment scandals in the last month. Two leading Democratic candidates in Kansas and Pennsylvania dropped out of their primaries. Andrea Ramsey exited after a 2005 harassment suit surfaced, while former staffers accused state Sen. Daylin Leach of inappropriate touching. In Nevada, Rep. Ruben Kihuen said he wouldn’t run for reelection after a former campaign aide and a former lobbyist said that he sexually harassed them.

They’re still battleground seats in a year that favors Democrats, but they might be heavier lifts without an incumbent and the taint of sexual harassment scandals. More broadly, they could be just the first of many campaigns derailed by sexual misconduct over the next year.

New York’s 24th District: Who’s afraid of John Katko?

While Democrats have seen a flood of interested candidates in battleground districts around the country, there are still a few holes in the roster.

GOP Rep. John Katko’s seat has been a top Democratic target since he captured it in 2014, but he has not drawn a top-tier Democratic challenger for 2018 yet after huge victories in his last two races. Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner continues to toy with the idea, and she said she is reconsidering it since Katko supported the GOP tax bill. California Rep. David Valadao is another Clinton-district Republican who hasn’t seen the same glut of Democratic challengers as many of his colleagues.

Watch some holes in the Republican recruitment map, too: The Congressional Leadership Fund said it plans to target Iowa Rep. Dave Loebsack for the first time, after Trump carried his district last year, but no serious Republican contenders have launched bids against Loebsack yet.

Iowa’s 1st District: Democrats’ old path meets their new campaigns

Ever since Democrats lost the House majority in 2010, they’ve seen Iowa as a key piece of the path back. But the state has gotten only more Republican since then, with the GOP holding three of four House seats and Trump crushing Clinton in the 2016 presidential race.

In 2018, Abby Finkenauer — a state legislator who hails from a union family and is challenging GOP Rep. Rod Blum — is the Democrats’ best hope to make a comeback in the state’s delegation. Trump won the seat by 3 points, but former President Barack Obama carried it twice before that. More critically, Democrats would love to diversify their chances of a House win beyond a suburban sweep, given how strong some Republican incumbents are in those districts. Finkenauer’s roots in the union community and renewed Democratic enthusiasm could put her over the top, but Blum and the GOP will hope that the party’s recent gains in blue-collar districts in Iowa, Wisconsin and elsewhere can withstand a tough political environment. Finkenauer is one of the Democrats’ best hopes, but she faces a contested primary first.

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Florida Politics: “Debbie Mucarsel-Powell picks up more congressional endorsements in CD 26”


Democratic congressional candidate Debbie Mucarsel-Powell has picked up a couple more endorsements from sitting members of Congress, this time from notable Hispanic leaders, in her bid to be elected in Florida’s 26th Congressional District.

U.S. Reps. Pete Aguilar and U.S. Rep. Linda Sanchez, both Democrats from California, endorsed Mucarsel-Powell, her campaign announced Thursday. Aguilar is whip of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and Sanchez is the past chair.

The Democratic-dominated caucus last month rejected membership by Mucarsel-Powell’s Republican opponent in the race, incumbent U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, based on his positions and activities regarding the DREAM Act, the Affordable Care Act, and the Republican tax bill that was approved this week.

Before anyone could consider taking on Curbelo in next year’s election, there is a Democratic primary to be decided. Mucarsel-Powell faces former Army officer Steve Smith of Miami and Steven Machat, a Miami Beach music producer and attorney.

Mucarsel-Powell immigrated as a young child with her family to the United States from Ecuador.

“I am proud to support Debbie in her run for Congress. Like so many immigrants, Debbie and her family came to America in search of a better life for their children- and by working two and three jobs, learning English at night, and by never giving up, Debbie was able to achieve the American Dream,” Aguilar said in a news release issued by her campaign. “I know Debbie will fight for those same opportunities in Congress that helped her family get ahead for every family in Florida’s 26th Congressional District.”

Sanchez added, “As an immigrant and a Latina, Debbie is the champion Miami families deserve in Washington to advocate for this community. Debbie has spent her career expanding health care access to underserved communities in South Florida, predominantly serving communities of color. I know she will take that same dedication and passion to Washington, where she will continue to fight for what is right for the people of Florida’s 26th Congressional District.”

Earlier this month Mucarsel-Powell announced endorsements from South Florida Democratic U.S. Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Lois Frankel.

“I’m honored to receive the support of Congressman Aguilar and Congresswoman Sanchez in my campaign for Florida’s 26th Congressional District. You will always know where I stand on the issues — DREAM Act: I would co-sponsor it, ACA: Yes, we need to expand quality health care access, GOP tax bill: No, a handout to the ultrawealthy and large corporations at the expense of middle-class families,” said Debbie Mucarsel-Powell. “Congressman Aguilar and Congresswoman Sanchez want a colleague they count on and the families of FL-26 want a representative they can depend on, unlike my opponent who says one thing at home and does another in DC.”

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Florida Politics: “Debbie Wasserman Schultz formally backs Debbie Mucarsel-Powell for CD 26”


Debbie Wasserman Schultz is supporting fellow Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell in her campaign for Florida’s 26th Congressional District.

“I am proud to endorse Debbie Mucarsel-Powell in her campaign for Congress,” said the former Democratic National Committee chair Sunday afternoon in a statement from the Mucarsel-Powell campaign. “Debbie has spent her career working to expand health care access to underserved communities in Miami. I’ve gotten to know Debbie over the past several years, and I’ve seen how well she understands firsthand, as an immigrant and a mother, the realities so many South Florida families are facing.

“From fighting climate change to building an economy that puts the people first, Debbie has a bold vision for our future and will be a strong voice on behalf of the South Florida community.”

CD 26 runs from Miami to Key West. Republican Carlos Curbelo has held the seat since he defeated one-term Democratic incumbent Joe Garcia in 2014. And Curbelo has raised a lot of money to keep it.

Democrats have long considered CD 26 one of the ripest seats to convert from red to blue in 2018.

In an extremely competitive district, Mucarsel-Powell is emerging as the Democratic establishment choice. Palm Beach County-area Democratic Congresswoman Lois Frankel has already endorsed Mucarsel-Powell. So have EMILY’s List and a host of South Florida elected officials.

Also competing against Mucarsel-Powell in the Democratic primary are Steve Smith and Steven Machat, a Miami Beach music producer and attorney who unsuccessfully ran for U.S. Senate in 2016.

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New York Magazine: “The Democrats Really Can Win the House in 2018”


Just under a year before the 2018 midterm elections, Democratic prospects for gaining the 24 net seats they need to take control of the U.S. House of Representative are getting stronger. Aside from a number of long-in-advance indicators like presidential approval ratings and the congressional generic ballot, the 2017 election returns, capped by high-profile Democratic wins in Virginia and elsewhere on November 7, have provided objective evidence that Democrats are regularly exceeding expectations based on past performance (if not always meeting last-minute expectations of big wins). But you win elections in particular places and one at a time, and at the level of individual races, Republicans retain a lot of advantages that could keep them in control of the House even if they lose the national popular vote.

Republicans also have a lot of exposure, having made a net gain of 68 House seats in the last three elections. This can matter even more than presidential approval ratings: In 2010, Obama’s pre-midterm approval rating was 45 percent, but his party — engorged by big House performances in 2006 and 2008 — lost 63 seats. Four years later, Obama’s approval ratings were sharply lower, at 40 percent, but his party only lost 13 net House seats.

Related: Tracking the Most Competitive House Races in the 2018 Midterms
A dynamic, monthly breakdown of the most competitive districts
The big-picture factors favoring Democrats are clear. The party controlling the White House almost always loses House seats in midterms; the two exceptions in recorded history occurred in years in which the presidents in question were enjoying very high approval ratings (Clinton at 66 percent in 1998 and George W. Bush at 63 percent in 2002). Since 1946, the average midterm House losses for presidents with approval ratings under 50 percent has been 36 seats. President Trump’s approval ratings (using the RealClearPolitics polling averages as a benchmark) have never topped 50 percent, and have mostly bounced around the low side of 40 percent since the spring.

The other big indicator for House races is the generic congressional ballot: a polling question that simply measures partisan voting intentions for upcoming congressional elections. According to FiveThirtyEight’s Harry Enten, the final generic ballot before midterm elections is on average as accurate as final presidential polls, hitting within 2 percent of the actual national House popular vote. The generic ballot can, of course, change significantly during the final year of a midterm cycle; at this point in 2009, for example, a CNN survey gave Democrats a six-point advantage in the generic ballot; the final RealClearPolitics average just before the 2010 midterms favored Republicans by 9.4 percent. But such big movements tend to occur in synch with presidential approval ratings, and beyond that, the usual trend is away from the president’s party, as in 2010.

The current RealClearPolitics generic ballot average gives Democrats a 10.2 percent advantage. The gap has been slowly increasing throughout 2017; six months ago it was at 5.8 percent.

Special (and regular off-year) elections in 2017 have shown a similar Democratic advantage. In an analysis of 38 such contests (mostly for state legislative seats), Daniel Donner found a clear trend:

Out of all the special elections with typical Democrat vs. Republican dynamics, Democrats have overperformed the 2016 presidential margin by more than 10 points in 25 of them. Republicans have overperformed by more than 10 points in just four — but one of those was actually a Democratic flip! On average, Democrats are doing about 13 points better than Hillary Clinton.

The Virginia results in November were equally impressive, with gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam winning by the largest margin of any Democrat since 1985. And the Donkey Party’s shocking Virginia state legislative gains, heavily concentrated in suburban communities, showed that the disdain for Donald Trump among college-educated white voters was rubbing off on down-ballot Republicans.

Still, all these positive indicators for Democrats don’t translate proportionately to gained House seats, even if they persist in 2018. The generic ballot, for example, simply predicts the national House popular vote, not seats gained, and it’s not at all clear how big a margin in the popular vote Democrats will need in 2018 to win back the House. Harry Enten explained the problem back in February:

[I] f Democrats win the national House vote by a margin in the low- to mid-single digits, that may not be enough to take back the House. The median congressional district was 5.5 percentage points more Republican-leaning in the presidential race than the nation as a whole in 2016, meaning Democrats are essentially spotting the GOP 5.5 points in the battle for control of the House. And even that may be underestimating Republicans ability to win a majority of seats without a majority of the vote. Since 2012 (or when most states instituted the current House district lines), Republicans have won, on average, 51 percent of the two-party House vote and 55 percent of House seats. If that difference holds for 2018, Democrats would need to win the House popular vote by about 8 percentage points to win half the House seats.

Incumbency and redistricting are the big institutional reasons the GOP upholds its House majority, despite likely Democratic margins in the overall popular vote. But as the Cook Political Report’s Amy Walter notes, those advantages may be eroding as the party and its president grow less popular:

In the most recent October survey, [NBC News] found that Republicans had a six-point advantage in GOP-held seats (R+6), while Democrats had a 29 point advantage in seats they hold (D+29). What’s significant—or what NBC/Wall Street Journal pollster Bill McInturff called a “flashing yellow light,” was that the GOP advantage in seats they already hold dropped eight points from September to October—from R+14 to R+5. It also stands in stark contrast to the average generic advantage Republicans had in seats they held in the most recent mid-term elections (R+15 in 2010 and R+18 in 2014).

The pace of House Republican retirements has picked up recently as well, and with incumbency worth an estimated seven points as compared to similar races with non-incumbents, that could be a really big deal. But most of the 29 announced GOP retirements are for Members in non-competitive districts. According to Cook Political Report, there are at present just six competitive House seats being vacated by retiring Republicans, along with three such Democratic seats. A few more, particularly in the 23 certified Trump-resistant districts carried by Hillary Clinton last year, could make a big difference. Another factor that could erode the usual advantages of incumbency is the unusually large number of Democratic challengers who are raising serious early money.

Looking more closely at individual districts, New York has identified 40 races to watch next year. Of the 32 in districts currently held by Republicans, the Cook Political Report (which is very conservative about projecting upsets) lists 12 as toss-ups, another 18 as leaning Republican, and two as likely Republican. In the eight Democratic-held districts to watch, Cook calls three toss-ups and the other five as races leaning Democratic.

If a Democratic wave begins to form, you could see all the toss-ups moving Democratic and a number of the Lean Republican races moving into very vulnerable territory (along with some of the 25 Likely Republican districts becoming competitive). In 2010, the last wave election, the Cook Political Report showed the competitive districts literally doubling between November 2009 and November 2010, with the number of vulnerable Democratic seats jumping from 37 to 91. One thing to watch right in the very near future is whether House Republicans pass a tax bill that kills the state and local tax deduction — hammering upper-middle-class itemizers in California, New Jersey, and New York — and how many of the nine vulnerable GOP incumbents from those states vote for it. As the actual midterm election year approaches over the holidays, it could be a perilous time for House Republicans.

In the end, control of the House would be of great value to Democrats, given the majority’s power in that chamber to control what comes to the floor and what gets attention. It would signal a formal end to the GOP’s window of opportunity in enjoying a federal government “trifecta.” But even if Democrats simply make significant gains short of a majority, shrinking the GOP margin could have a major practical effect. As we’ve seen in the Senate this year, the Republican Party is not unified enough to pass legislation with much of a margin for error.

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