Two years ago, U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson came out on top in a nine-candidate race with 35 percent of the vote in what was then Congressional District 17, with Dr. Rudy Moise, 57, a Haitian-American physician, taking second with 16 percent. This time they are going head-to-head against each other in a redrawn District 24 that now stretches south into the Brickell corridor but still includes Miami Gardens, Opa-Locka and a sliver of Broward County. It remains solidly Democratic, though all voters can vote in this universal primary.
The race has been marred by charges that Mr. Moise, who did not respond to a request to meet with the Editorial Board or fill out a questionnaire, is trying to divide the electorate into African-American and Haitian-American camps, which he denies. But it did not help his case when Haitian President Michel Martelly made a clumsy effort to influence the outcome by urging Haitian-Americans in the district to vote for Dr. Moise. Nor did Dr. Moise help his own case when his campaign declared that the school dropout rate in the district was 61 percent, a claim that PolitiFact Florida rated as “false.”
Rep. Wilson, 69, a former educator, is a well-known figure in local politics. She was elected to the school board in 1992, later serving in both the Florida House and Senate. She is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and has gone to Haiti to assess the country’s needs in the post-earthquake period, as well as Israel, which she says must continue to receive U.S. help because it is a strong ally.
She has also remained active in education, working with a project she founded to steer at-risk boys away from crime and violence. She is an outspoken critic of the FCAT and wants to become a member of the Committee on Education to help draft education policies.
Ms. Wilson’s experience makes her the strongest candidate in this race. She is well-versed on a variety of issues and provides strong constituent service, especially for residents with immigration issues. For U.S. Congress in District 24, The Herald recommends FREDERICA WILSON.
Democrats are itching to take on U.S. Rep. David Rivera, whom they feel is vulnerable on ethics charges. But despite his difficulties, Rep. Rivera is a veteran campaigner who can be counted on to have a big war chest and put up a strong fight to retain his seat. For Democrats, the issue is who can best represent the party in what is bound to be a hard-fought race.
The three principal contenders are Joe Garcia, 48, a former Democratic Party chairman in Miami-Dade County; Gustavo Marin, 65, a long-time activist in Democratic Party circles; and Gloria Romero Roses, 40, a Southwest Ranches businesswomen and first-time candidate who has received the backing of the Democratic hierarchy. Also running is Lamar Stenard.
All three candidates share a generally similar outlook on key Democratic issues, including support for the Affordable Care Act, comprehensive immigration reform and a need to balance the budget by both cutting expenses and raising more revenue.
Mr. Marin can speak at length on the issues, but his lack of funding in this redrawn district puts him at a distinct disadvantage.
Mr. Garcia, a lawyer who has run unsuccessfully for Congress twice before, is hoping the third time is the charm, but he was beaten handily by Rep. Rivera in 2010. Mr. Garcia will doubtless run an aggressive campaign and has strong union support.
Ms. Roses, however, offers the right contrast to stand against an incumbent who has been in the headlines for investigation of his finances.
With vast business experience and community service, she is a fresh face who can attract the independent voters that can make the difference in a district closely divided between Republicans and Democrats. The new redrawn district stretches from the southwest suburbs of Miami-Dade to the Florida Keys.
In a Congress too often at gridlock because of partisan bickering, Ms. Roses would be willing to approach issues based on their merits not solely on party lines.
Smart and engaging, Ms. Roses has well-thought-out policy issues. She is particularly critical of what she calls tax and revenue “giveaways” to oil and pharmaceutical companies and says the federal government must be allowed to negotiate better prices for its drug programs.
Her community activity includes working on housing and workforce committees with the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce and helping with Haiti relief efforts.
For U.S. Congress in District 26, Democratic primary, The Herald recommends GLORIA ROMERO ROSES.