This race for a rare open seat in Congress has turned into a nasty fight between Republican state Rep. David Rivera, 45, and Democrat Joe Garcia, 47. Voters deserve better. Instead they will have to choose between two bright, energetic candidates with distinctly different policy views and significant character issues.
Mr. Rivera calls himself a deficit hawk. He opposes the Obama healthcare reform plan and the financial stimulus. Mr. Garcia is a strong supporter of healthcare reform and was a consumer advocate when he chaired the state Public Service Commission. He favors comprehensive immigration reform, whereas Mr. Rivera emphasizes border control.
Mr. Rivera has been a state legislator for eight years, but during this campaign he has at times discredited himself. He has not released documentation to clarify a consulting contract he says he has with the U.S. Agency for International Development, which maintains it has no record of this. That raises disturbing questions about transparency and honesty. Mr. Rivera owes it to the public to come clean about his sources of income.
Mr. Garcia, a moderate on Cuba policy, is well known for an argumentative style. It may have served him well as an advocate for his party and other causes, but in Congress we need fewer verbal bomb throwers and more consensus-builders. His campaign has consisted of disparaging attack ads against Mr. Rivera, hardly an incentive to vote for Mr. Garcia.
Still, the time has come for a change in this district, giving Mr. Garcia an edge. It has been represented by U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a Republican, ever since it was created after the 2000 census. This year, Mr. Diaz-Balart moved to a district considered safer for Republicans. The district is evenly divided among registered Democrats and Republicans, with independents holding the balance.
For U.S. House, District 25, The Miami Herald recommends JOE GARCIA.