Separately, Rivera faces a federal investigation into his involvement in financing the race of one of Garcias Democratic primary challengers, Justin Lamar Sternad. Rivera has denied any role in Sternads campaign, but campaign vendors who have since given statements and evidence to the FBI have said Rivera ran Sternads sophisticated operation. Sternad has filed blank campaign finance reports, invoking his constitutional right to remain silent to avoid incriminating himself.
Last month, the state ethics commission charged Rivera with concealing the slots consulting money, misusing campaign funds, and filing bogus financial disclosure forms. Rivera claimed for several years that he worked as a contractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development, but USAID told state investigators that the agency never hired Rivera.
Rivera tried to paint Garcia as corrupt, citing federal elections filings pointing out financial reporting incidents and suggesting Garcia benefited from a U.S. Department of Energy contract subcontracted to a Puerto Rican firm that later hired Garcia. Garcia briefly worked as director of the energy departments office of minority economic impact and diversity, which said it was not involved in the contract referenced by Rivera.
Garcia had previously run unsuccessfully against Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart in 2008, and for the Miami-Dade County Commission in 1993.
On Tuesday, voters in the district werent particularly happy about their choices.
Which of the two evils? first-grade teacher Brenda Faust, 39, asked Tuesday at her Homestead precinct. She ended up casting her ballot for Garcia.
I dont trust David Rivera as far as I can spit, she concluded. I cant wait till he gets out of office. I dont think hes a nice person, and I think hes sneaky.
Elsewhere, Diaz-Balart and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, both Miami Republicans, coasted to reelection, as did Democratic Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston, Alcee Hastings of Miramar, and Ted Deutch of Boca Raton.
In West Palm Beach, a beaming Frankel, 64, spoke to supporters at the Embassy Suites hotel, where a crowd on stage surrounded her with campaign signs and American flag balloons. Frankel said Hasner, whom she called a formidable challenger, had called to congratulate her.
Im going to be there to make sure you are going to get that Medicare check every day, and there are going to be good jobs for young people like my son ..., she said, standing next to her son Ben. My run for Congress has been about making sure women of our country are going to be allowed to make their own personal healthcare decisions.
In the new Democratic district, Hasner who dropped his lagging U.S. Senate bid to run for Congress instead put up a spirited fight against Frankel, a former state legislator. Hasner matched Frankels $3 million in donations and attacked her West Palm Beach record, including taking a 40 percent pay raise while mayor. Frankel hammered Hasner as a conservative who supported U.S. Rep. Paul Ryans budget plan and opposed abortion rights.
El Nuevo Herald staff writers Alfonso Chardy and Juan Carlos Chávez, and Miami Herald writers Paradise Afshar, Bill Coppinger, Elizabeth deArmas, Lidia Dinkova, Scott Hiaasen, Alexandra Leon, Stephanie Parra, and Christina Veiga contributed to this report.