Reporting Gary Nelson
Legislative Session Coverage
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Democrat Joe Garcia has made his case to South Florida voters that he should represent him in Congress and twice he’s lost. But Garcia will again run for Congress in 2012 against incumbent Republican Congressman David Rivera.
Garcia, an attorney who once chaired the Florida Public Service Commission and served as executive director of the Cuban American National Foundation, said Monday he was running because Rivera can’t do his job representing the people while under investigation for the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service for alleged financial irregularities.
GARCIA CAMPAIGN ANNOUNCEMENT
Garcia began his first day of campaigning at a May Day rally of union members, activists and patients protesting cuts at Jacksonville Memorial Hospital. Garcia told a crowd of several hundred that public hospitals must be maintained.
“When someone is sick and has nowhere to go, this is where they come,” he told the crowd.
Garcia said his campaign will be about restoring the middle class and helping those who most need it. He blamed the economic meltdown and real estate collapse on deregulation permitted under GOP rule.
He also repeated his attack on the incumbent, Rivera, saying a vote for Rivera would be one for “criminality.”
Garcia declined to speak negatively of Roses, his likely only opponent in the Democratic primary.
When asked about allegations that Roses engaged in union-busting efforts as an executive with a condominium company, Garcia would only say that she will “have to answer the unions’ questions about that.”
Roses was recruited by Democrats after the first person who filed to challenge Rivera, state Rep. Luis Garcia, lost the confidence of party leaders who didn’t feel he could beat Rivera. He dropped out of the race, said he would leave the party, and is now running for Miami-Dade County Commission.
Roses told CBS4’s Gary Nelson that as an executive with the condo firm she educated employees about generous benefits that were available to them but never attempted to obstruct the union.
“I believe in collective bargaining,” she said.
Roses, who has never held elected office, said she’s a can-do candidate.
“I have a strong record of being a businesswoman who has rolled up her sleeves and gotten the job done, including creating jobs,” she said.
Rivera was under investigation by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s office for allegedly misusing campaign funds, an investigation abandoned when prosecutors encountered problems with the statute of limitations and loopholes in campaign finance law that made it impossible to prove Rivera had broken any law.
Other lesser known candidates have said they would run, but the true race will be between Roses and Garcia. Garcia must overcome a losing history and convince party contributors he has what it takes to beat Rivera, even though he lost to Rivera by 10 points less than 2 years ago.
He must also overcome the support party officials promised Roses when they invited her to run.
Rivera, who is seen by many as political damaged goods, has received the support of long-time friend and tea-party darling Marco Rubio. But, in the past, he’s been persona-non-grata of Republican leadership in the House of Representatives.