U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz has been under some fire from the left and right about how she has carried out her role as chair of the Democratic National Committee, her ability to get the president’s ear and to be an effective spokeswoman for his policies.
She rebuffs such talk, says that she has President Obama’s support and remains a popular and visible representative of her district, which runs from Miami Beach north to South Broward County. Despite being a member of the minority party, Ms. Wasserman Schultz, 48, has been in there pitching: pushing a national catastrophe fund that would allow states to pool risk and tailor it to their needs — what she rightly calls a “brilliant approach” that, unfortunately, didn’t get very far; meeting with Dreamers and working to get immigration reform beyond the GOP’s “No!”; seeking the release of Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, arrested in Mexico when he crossed the border with loaded firearms. Mr. Tahmooressi has family roots in Weston. She is also working on legislation that would mandate that those who traffic in identity theft — “phishing” — do “real time” in prison.
Ms. Wasserman Schultz is being challenged by Republican Joe Kaufman, who says that she has neglected the district while on the national stage. The Tamarac resident is a pro-Israel activist says his mission is to fight terrorism. He says that America “is headed in a dangerous direction” and that there should be no “amnesty” for undocumented migrants whose “first action is an illegal one.”
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For Congress, District 23, the Herald recommends DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ.
U.S. Rep. Frederica S. Wilson has had a tight focus not only on her district, but also on the needs of South Florida and the entire state. She has exercised enough muscle working on the region’s behalf that voters should send her back to the U.S. Capitol for a third term.
For instance, despite the partisan gridlock in Congress, Ms. Wilson, 71, pushed through a water bill that had been stuck for a dozen years. She brought together port directors, the Army Corps of Engineers and other stakeholders and helped guarantee that Florida will have the funding to continue to prepare to accommodate the super-sized ships that will come through the Panama Canal. That means jobs and an economic boost statewide.
She continues to push for the Jobs for America Act, which would help put more people to work in her district — and so many others across the country. She has been a player farther afield, too, coming to Haitians’ aid after the 2010 earthquake and, more recently, drawing up legislation that would use $480 million in funds seized from corrupt Nigerian strongman Sani Abacha to help refugees.
Ms. Wilson’s opponent, Republican Dufirston Neree, 40, works in community development. He did not respond to the Editorial Board’s request for an interview. The Herald recommends FREDERICA WILSON for Florida’s Congressional District 24.
South Florida’s District 26 may be the most contentious congressional race in the state. Incumbent Democrat Joe Garcia, 51, is seeking a second term representing a district that comprises Monroe County and western and southern portions of Miami-Dade. Carlos Curbelo, 34, is a member of the Miami-Dade School Board.
Both candidates support gay marriage and immigration reform, smart positions considering the district’s composition. Beyond that, they don’t agree on much.
Mr. Garcia is a strong supporter of the Affordable Care Act, though he disagreed with President Obama’s proposed cuts to Medicare. He supports a minimum-wage increase and touts his ability to win federal money for the district, including water projects and Everglades restoration.
Mr. Curbelo told the Editorial Board that his major issues include entitlement reform, tax reform and “our nation’s role on the world stage.” He believes entitlement standards needed to be tweaked to remain fiscally sound, while Mr. Garcia does not believe in altering the benefits standards for eligibility. Mr. Curbelo believes a minimum-wage increase would lead to job losses.
Unfortunately, Mr. Curbelo used the words “Ponzi scheme” in another forum to describe federal benefit programs like Medicare and Social Security. He later said he didn’t mean that literally.
For many voters, the issue in this race will come down to character and ethics. Mr. Garcia’s chief of staff pleaded guilty to attempted absentee-ballot manipulation. And his failed 2010 campaign has been under federal criminal investigation for more than a year over a suspected straw candidate. Mr. Garcia says he’s not worried because he’s done nothing wrong.
Mr. Curbelo has a different problem: A former registered lobbyist, he refuses to disclose the clients of his government and public-relations firm, and has resorted to a loophole — putting the firm he founded and manages under his wife’s ownership — to skirt regulations requiring disclosure.
Neither candidate is perfect. Mr. Garcia ran in 2012 against a scandal-plagued incumbent and promised to avoid even the appearance of ethical wrongdoing. Mr. Curbelo’s refusal to come clean on his lobbying activities does not speak well for his devotion to transparency in office.
Our nod goes to Mr. Garcia because of his record on issues of importance to the middle class and his work on behalf of the various constituencies in his district, including farmers, Key West residents plagued by property insurance problems and Everglades restoration.
For Congress, Florida District 26, the Miami Herald recommends JOE GARCIA.