U.S. Rep. David Rivera whose tenure was marked by a series of scandals and who remains the target of two federal investigations was booted out of office Tuesday, becoming the only Miami-Dade congressional incumbent to lose his seat in recent memory.
Rivera, a Republican, lost to Democrat Joe Garcia, who handily picked up the Kendall-to-Key West seat for his party on a night when the GOP kept control of the U.S. House of Representatives. It was Riveras first-ever loss at the polls in a political career going back a decade.
With all the precincts reporting, Garcia got nearly 54 percent of the vote to Rivers 42.9 percent.
Thank you, South Florida! a buoyant Garcia, 49, told more than a hundred supporters who were packed into Casa Vieja, a Colombian restaurant in West Kendall. Today, our community has spoken. It has decided to turn a new page, move in a new direction.
In his victory speech, Garcia called for compromise between Democrats and Republicans. In his only reference to his opponent, Garcia said Rivera ran a hard campaign. We wish him and his family well.
Another Republican incumbent, Rep. Allen West of Palm Beach Gardens, appeared to lose to Democrat Patrick Murphy by 2,456 votes in the early hours of Wednesday. Murphy got 50.4 percent of the vote to Wests 49.6 percent.
In District 18, there are still hundreds provisional ballots to be counted, but in those cases voters have to provide information to prove their ballots should be counted and its unlikely that all of them will, Eric Johnson, Murphys campaign consultant, said Wednesday morning. There are also absentee ballots remaining to be counted in Palm Beach.
The state elections website showed that the district which encompasses Palm Beach, St. Lucie and Martin counties gave a 2,456 voter edge to Murphy.
There is no scenario where the 2,400 [edge that Murphy as] gets overturned, he said. Right now we are 700 votes outside the recount measure.
The West campaign has not conceded, Johnson said. Wests campaign manager didnt respond to emails Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.
Johnson said that he believes Murphy, age 29, will become the youngest member of the next Congress but not the youngest in history.
Johnson attributed Murphys win to voters anger about attack ads.
Patricks message over and over that we have to work together, not be divisive, the name calling has got to stop really sold with voters in the Treasure Coast, Johnson said.
West was a Tea Party favorite and first-term member of Congress while Murphy is a 29-year-old businessman. In his first political race, Murphy tapped into Democrats nationwide distaste for West a regular on Fox News who drew attention for saying several dozen of Democrats in the House are communists and calling U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Weston) vile.
West raised about $17 million while Murphy raised more than $3.7 million in one of the most expensive House contests in the nation.
Murphys father gave $250,000 to a PAC that created an ad depicting a caricature of West, who is African-American, in boxing gloves punching an old white woman, a younger white woman and grabbing money from a black family. The ad was intended to depict West socking it to constituents over Medicare, health care and tax cuts.