Margolis was first elected to the state House in 1974, then moved to the state Senate in 1981 where she became the first female Senate president. She was elected as a Miami-Dade county commissioner in 1993 and returned to the Senate in 2003, taking a brief break in 2008 to unsuccessfully run for county property appraiser before returning in 2010 for a third time.
Couriel is not entirely on his own. His campaign received nearly $60,000 in bundled contributions from companies affiliated with Max Alvarez, the Rubio benefactor and gas distributor.
He has hired GOP political consultant David Custin, whose electioneering and communications organization, Tell the Public the Facts, just last month received a $50,000 contribution from a committee run by medical malpractice defense lawyer David Di Pietro of Fort Lauderdale.
The committee paid for a mail piece that accuses Margolis of “supporting cutting over $700 billion from Medicare” because she opposed a non-binding constitutional amendment on the ballot that was pushed by Republican lawmakers as a referendum on the federal healthcare reform act known as the Affordable Care Act.
If passed, it will have no effect on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, or on Medicare.
“It’s a convoluted argument,” Margolis said. “It’s a traditional campaign tactic where your opponent has to attack you to make points.”
Couriel said “the specific words are not mine” but defends the mailer.
“I think it’s fair to say she is in favor of using a portion of Medicare’s budget to fund the bureaucracy required to fund the Affordable Care Act,’’ he said.
He acknowledged, however, that a similar cut to Medicare is made by congressman Paul Ryan in his budget proposal. “People aren’t being fully honest about that fact,’’ he said.
But Couriel also doesn’t agree with Republicans, such as Gov. Scott, who say the state should oppose any effort to start planning for implementation of the act. If elected, he said one of his priorities would be to develop a healthcare exchange program that would be a model for other states. Scott has said the state will not develop that component, even if it means failure to do so will allow the federal government to write the program for Florida.
“I fear what is going to be dictated to us by Washington if we don’t fill the gap,’’ he said. “Drawing the line in the sand and saying we should not govern is not a good option.”
Mary Ellen Klas can be reached at meklas@ MiamiHerald.com and on Twitter @MaryEllenKlas