MIAMI (CBSMiami) – In the November General Election, Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo is defending his District 26 seat against Democratic challenger Debbie Mucarsel-Powell.
Florida’s 26th congressional district contains all of Monroe County and a portion of Southwest Miami-Dade County. Curbelo, a Cuban American, was first elected to the House in 2014.
In 2010, Republicans, with the help of Tea Party voters, took the House. In the 2014 midterm, Republicans took the Senate.
“One of the reasons that the President’s party loses seats in mid-term elections is that supporters of the out party are highly motivated to turn out and try to bring about some change in our government. So Democrats, Independents, anyone who is dissatisfied with the Republican Party, dissatisfied with President Trump, I think they are much more likely than usual to want to turn out and vote,” said University of Miami Political Science professor Greg Koger.
The trend could spell trouble for the 26th District race, where Republican staff and dollars have been pouring in to try to re-elect Curbelo.
“They have been sending paid staffers down to his district to organize voters so they’ve always identified it as a seat that was a really high priority for them to hold onto. In contrast, Ileana’s Ros-Lehtinen’s, Florida’s 27th District, to my knowledge they have made no effort to try to hold onto that district. They’ve kinda given up on the seat already it would seem,” Koger said.
Mucarsel-Powell is running against Curbelo in a district that Hillary Clinton won by more than 16 percentage points over Donald Trump in 2016. However, Curbelo defeated his Democratic opponent that year by 12 points.
A New York Times poll shows Curbelo (47 percent) has a slim edge over Mucarsel-Powell (44 percent) but with the margin of error the race is too close to call.
Curbelo has opposed President Donald Trump since the 2016 campaign and initially backed Jeb Bush. He has called the accumulation of Trump-related scandals a “sad chapter in our country’s politics,” according to the Times.
Curbelo has a history of conservative tendencies on fiscal issues and taxes.
On the issue of health care, Curbelo voted to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
On immigration, he used a procedural maneuver to try and force the House to vote on a reform measure but fell short by two votes. Curbelo has consistently voted with Democrats on legislation aimed at protecting so-called DREAMers.
Curbelo supports same-sex marriage.
Mucarsel-Powell, who came to America from Ecuador as a teen, says she was inspired to run for Congress when Curbelo voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act. She won the primary election with 64 percent of the vote.
Mucarsel-Powell, a former associate dean at Florida International University, has volunteered for a variety of environmental causes, according to the Times. Her platform has included policy proposals on gun control, health care, and environmental protection.
If elected, Mucarsel-Powell has pledged to take swift action on immigration reform and push back against Trump’s hardline stance on the issue.
Former Vice President Joe Biden has given her his endorsement.
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