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MIAMI (CBSMiami/NSF) – One of the more hotly contested races in this year’s General Election is between Democrat freshman U.S. Rep. Joe Garica and the man who wants his job, Republican Carlos Curbelo, a member of the Miami-Dade School.
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.
In the five-way Republican primary in August, Curbelo received 47 percent of the vote.
Garcia, 51, is an attorney who was appointed to the Florida Public Service Commission by then-Gov. Lawton Chiles. Garcia later served as executive director of the Cuban American National Foundation. In 2009, Garcia went to work for President Barack Obama in the Department of Energy.
Garcia won the Congressional District 26 seat in his third attempt, defeating David Rivera, who faced numerous ethics-related questions.
Curbelo and Garcia, both of Cuban descent, take opposing stances on many key issues in the district, such as on the Affordable Care Act, flood insurance, Social Security and 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.
Curbelo has tried to paint Garcia as a flawed politician who engaged in the same kinds of political dirty tricks that Rivera was accused of using.
Garcia has denied personally knowing that his chief of staff set up a plot to make fake online requests for absentee ballots in the 2012 contest. The chief of staff wound up resigning and going to jail for 90 days.
Curbelo has been attacked for supporting statewide education cuts in 2010 as part of Gov. Rick Scott’s education transition team. He also had to scramble over a recorded comment in which he compared Medicare and Social Security to a “Ponzi scheme.”
Curbelo has also been repeatedly questioned for putting his consulting company into his wife’s name, a move that allows him to keep from disclosing the names of clients.
The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.
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