MIAMI (CBSMiami) – U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia conceded to Republican challenger Carlos Curbelo Tuesday night.READ MORE: 3 Million Pounds Of Dead Fish Cleaned Up Off Pinellas County In Red Tide Fish Kill
“Tonight we celebrate our victory…tomorrow begins the work to give the people of District 26..give them the honest and effective representation they deserve,” said Curbelo.
The school board member said repeatedly the people needed corruption out, referring to Garcia and a new chapter to begin.
Curbelo talked about helping Florida’s economy, students graduating with great debts and not being able to get good jobs, and even covered immigration reform.
Once the results came in, Garcia offered kind words during his concession.
“I’ve known Mr. Curbelo for a better part of, for a majority of his life, not mine and I wished him luck and offered any help I can give him,” Rep. Garcia told CBS4’s Brian Andrews.
Garcia, 51, was considered one of the most vulnerable incumbents by political analysts in 2012.
Garcia has been working to fight off allegations that corruption related to his ex-chief of staff’s conviction on filling out multiple absentee ballot requests.
He denied knowing about a plot to make fake online requests for absentee ballots during the race two-years ago.
“I think what you’re looking at is a lot of national trends tonight and we saw it here, we saw it nationally in the Senate, we saw it in the Crist race,” added Rep. Garcia. “Here you have a race that every indication showed that it was headed on the right track, the problem is when you have this much money it is tough to get the voice of the people out. We were outspent by outside money almost two to one. They were spending a year before we had a race before we had an opponent.”
Curbelo, 34, who set up a business and political consulting firm called Capitol Gains after graduating from the University of Miami, served as state director for U.S. Sen. George LeMieux before winning a seat on the Miami-Dade School Board in 2010.READ MORE: ‘This Is Our Fight’: From Miami To Hialeah, Crowds Gather To Support Cuba
Curbelo said he favors maintaining the trade embargo against Cuba, while revising the Cuban Adjustment Act, which provides a system for Cuban refugees to live in the United States. He wants to tighten requirements so that the act applies only people who were victims of oppression. Garcia supports allowing more travel and contact with the island nation, while maintaining the Cuban Adjustment Act.
Florida Democratic Party Chair Allison Tant released the following statement on Joe Garcia’s campaign in Congressional District 26:
“Joe ran a strong, hard-fought campaign that made Democrats and South Floridians proud. He stood strong for the values he’s fought for every day in Congress — growing Florida’s economy from the middle class out, protecting Social Security and Medicare, and working to expand the American Dream to those all who seek it. I am proud of the work Joe accomplished in Congress and of the campaign he and his team ran.”
“I will never be done with South Florida and there is always a role for a citizen to play in democracy,” said Rep. Garcia.
He also considers himself the latest political victim of the national trend against Democrats. He said he was outspent, outgunned, and out muscled politically.
“We were outspent by outside money almost 2 to 1 and they were spending a year before we even had a race, before we had an opponent,” he said. “I think independent expenditures to this degree are a toxic force in our body politic.” He went on, “It makes it very difficult for ‘Joe 6 pack’ to have a voice and ‘Joe 6 Pack’ isn’t going to give you a million dollar contribution.”
For election results, click here.
The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.
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