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Joe Garcia with Barack Obama
Joe Garcia. He's the one on the left.
Please contribute $3 to Joe Garcia on Orange to Blue.

This isn't the first time Joe Garcia has fought the good fight in Southern Florida, nor the second for that matter. But this is certainly the most important ...

Because if we're going to get Nancy Pelosi her gavel back, it will be because of districts like this one. That, and his opponent, David Rivera, is literally Marco Rubio's corrupt BFF.

Garcia's previous two runs were in a moderately Republican districts, dominated by conservative Cuban-Americans. The new district takes in Miami's southern suburbs and the Keys (and lots of alligators in the Everglades, but they don't vote worth shit), and is now the most Democratic of the three South Florida Cuban-American districts. Obama won it narrowly with 50 percent of the vote in 2008. And even in the heavily Republican 2010 wave year, GOP Florida Gov. Rick Scott only won this district by the barest of margins: 49.0 to 48.8.

So the district is split as evenly as any district will ever be divided, which brings us to the villain -- and this one is a doozy.

David Rivera was Sen. Marco Rubio's roomie back in the day, and the two have been very close. In fact, David Rivera is so incredibly corrupt, and Rubio is so close to him, that this relationship is often cited as the reason Rubio won't make the cut for Romney's veep.

Rivera is the very controversial Florida U.S. House member who remains under FBI and IRS investigation for a series of campaign finance irregularities that led Miami-Dade prosecutors to conclude recently that the Sunshine State Republican “essentially live[d] off” donations from campaign contributors for the better part of a decade [...]

“I think until David is federally cleared on any wrongdoing, it is damn near a [disqualifier] ... we continually hear that though the state authorities took a pass, they did so knowing others would not,” said one senior Republican operative in Florida. “Marco is his friend, and he is loyal, but it comes to a point when stakes are so high and margins so close that it would be the difference between being invited to the ticket or not.”

While Rivera's ethical issues were an issue in 2010, they were overshadowed by the much larger pro-GOP wave. In fact, Florida experienced one of the nation's biggest drop-offs in Democratic turnout that year. It was too much for Garcia to overcome.

Goal ThermometerBut 2012 is a whole new ballgame -- a bluer district, a competitive presidential race and an active Obama campaign turning out the vote, two years of ghastly headlines for Rivera, and a Democratic challenger who has more battle experience than most.

To be honest, I'm surprised that Garcia is running. It's tough to run and even tougher to fall short. But the inherent difficulties of his district didn't deter him previously, and he certainly didn't shy away in 2010, even though we all knew it would be a tough year. He's a fighter. And when our initial candidate in the district didn't pan out, he once again stepped in to fill a void in one of our top pickup opportunities this year.

As you can see below the fold, Garcia is solid on the issues, and he now has a better district and political environment to work with.

And David Rivera ... yeah, let's get rid of Marco Rubio's BFF.

Please, contribute $3 to Joe Garcia on Orange to Blue.

If only we'd get answers like these from every candidate...

1. Do you support:
     a) A public health insurance option, offered by the federal government and tied to Medicare reimbursement rates plus 5% (H.R. 3200, Subtitle B, including § 223(b)(1)(A), as introduced in the House, 111th Congress)?

YES

     b) The Medicare You Can Buy Into Act (H.R. 4789, 111th Congress), which would allow all citizens or permanent residents to buy into Medicare?

YES

2. Do you agree that any immigration reform bill should:
     a) Contain a meaningful path to citizenship — one that does not include overly-punitive fines or a touchback requirement — for law-abiding undocumented immigrants currently in the United States;

YES

     b) Ensure that expanded legal permanent immigration, rather than expansion of temporary worker programs, serves as the United States' primary external answer to workforce shortages; and

YES

     c) Ensure that any non-agricultural temporary worker programs maintain current caps on the total number of non-agricultural temporary worker visas issued, and also include a meaningful prevailing wage requirement keyed to the Service Contract Act and the Davis-Bacon Act?

YES

3. Do you oppose each of the following changes to Social Security and Medicare:
     a) Raising the retirement age;
YES
     b) Eliminating or reducing the cost of living adjustment;
YES
     c) Directly reducing benefits;
YES
     d) Means-testing recipients; and
YES
     e) Privatization, so-called "personal accounts," and vouchers?
YES

4. Do you support the Employee Free Choice Act (H.R. 1409/S. 560, 111th Congress), including the provision known as "card check"?

YES

5. Do you pledge to vote against any efforts to extend the temporary tax cuts for income over $250,000 (Public Law 111-312)?

YES

6. If elected to the House, do you pledge not to join the Blue Dog Coalition?

YES

7. If elected to the Senate, do you pledge to restore majority rule to the Senate and work/vote to end the filibuster?

If I ever become a Senator, then yes.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Tue Jun 26, 2012 at 09:39 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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