Miami Herald | EDITORIAL

Herald recommends for Congress, party primary

 

OUR OPINION: For Congress, party primaries

HeraldEd@MiamiHerald.com

DISTRICT 23

Republican challengers Juan Garcia and Joe Kaufman are trying to unseat incumbent Democrat Debbie Wasserman Schultz in this reliably Democratic district that covers a 7-shaped area from South Beach to Weston in Broward County.

Ms. Wasserman Schultz is a prominent member of Congress who chairs the national Democratic Party. Mr. Garcia, 39, and Mr. Kaufman, 44, say her party job is a distraction from her duties in Congress. Both challengers ran for this seat in 2012, unsuccessfully. Now, Mr. Garcia has the endorsement of Karen Harrington, who won the GOP nomination in 2012.

The two are strongly conservative. Mr. Kaufman, who describes himself as an expert on counter-terrorism, zeroes in on security issues. Mr. Garcia makes budget issues a priority saying the deficit is a threat to the nation.

One major difference is that Mr. Garcia believes in immigration reform once the border is under control, while Mr. Kaufman seems to take a much harder line.

Although Mr. Kaufman has far outpaced him in raising money, Mr. Garcia may find it easier to reach out to independents and the undecided in this district. On that basis, for the Republican nomination for U.S. House, District 23, the Miami Herald recommends JUAN GARCIA.

DISTRICT 24

U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson is well-versed in the needs of her district, and she also has her priorities straight as to what’s in the nation’s best interest right now. “The No. 1 issues is immigration reform,” she told the Editorial Board.

Though that remains stalled in Congress, Ms. Wilson, 71, deftly unstuck legislation — the water bill — that had not been passed in 12 years. As a result of her hard work in bringing together disparate players, from port directors to the Army Corps of Engineers — plus persuading wary congressional colleagues that the projects to be funded were not dreaded “earmarks” — she says that Florida ports, among others, will be able to continue to prepare to accept the superships that will come through the modified Panama Canal. That’s great for the state’s economy, for its workforce and for Ms. Wilson herself. This achievement alone warrants voters returning her to office.

She has a challenger in this Democratic primary: Michael Etienne. Mr. Etienne, 31, is North Miami city clerk, a part-time position that allows him to maintain a private law practice. He takes issue with several of Ms. Wilson’s votes, including for the use of force in Libya in 2011. He is an earnest man who seems committed to public service. However, Congress is probably not where he should start. In the Democratic primary for U.S. House, District 24, the Miami Herald recommends FREDERICA S. WILSON.

DISTRICT 26

Republicans are so eager to recapture this deep South Florida seat held by Democrat Joe Garcia that five candidates have jumped into the GOP primary. Former Rep. David Rivera, whom Mr. Garcia beat in 2012, filed for the seat then said he was suspending his campaign. Recently, though, he sent some voters an automated call telling them to ignore “lies” in the news media. The Herald has reported that he may be running a stealth campaign to avoid questions about a criminal probe into his alleged involvement in an illegal 2012 campaign-finance scheme.

The candidates running an open campaign are Carlos Curbelo, a member of the Miami-Dade School Board; Cutler Bay Mayor Ed MacDougall; former Miami-Dade County Commissioner Joe Martinez, who did not see the Editorial Board, and attorney Lorenzo Palomares-Starbuck.

Mr. Curbelo has the GOP establishment’s backing and a number of prominent endorsements, and has raised almost three times as much money as all his rivals combined. Mr. MacDougall touts that he has spent mostly his own money, which, he said, gives him independence from party leaders.

Mr. MacDougall, 65, has called Mr. Curbelo too moderate, though he says the GOP should “move forward” on gay marriage, stop obsessing on abortion issues, and take environmental problems more seriously. One issue on which they differ is common core education standards, which Mr. Curbelo supports and Mr. MacDougall opposes. Mr. MacDougall says the federal government should be seen as a partner to the states, but not its overseer.

Mr. Curbelo, 34, told the Editorial Board he disagrees with the “demagogues” in his party and that all political factions need to come to the table. He says he’s part of a new generation of moderate, pragmatic Republicans able to attract younger voters and stands the best chance of defeating the incumbent Democrat.

We agree. For the Republican nomination for U.S. House, District 26, the Miami Herald recommends CARLOS CURBELO.

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