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.”

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