Marco Rubio one of only five US senators given 100% by Koch Bros.

Barely a year in office and he already excels at taking orders from his big donors. The astroturf group called Americans for Prosperity, aka the political tool of the right-wing Koch brothers, ranks Marco Rubio with four other US senators at 100 percent and A+ for voting as commanded all the time. This link will take you to the Think Progress report on the AFP congressional scorecard.

Curious how Rubio stands out from his three Miami-Dade fellow Republicans in Florida’s US House delegation. The ethically challenged David Rivera (FL-25) gets along with a B grade from the Kochs, and the middling C is given to Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-18) and Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-21). The entire scorecard is available here.

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FL25: Luis Garcia announces for US House seat held by David Rivera

State Rep. Luis Garcia is in the Miami Herald today with his announcement that he’s running for the US House seat won last year by David Rivera.

As this blog reported recently, two others are thinking of running: Joe Garcia, who ran strong races twice for the seat but lost, and Annette Taddeo, who ran in 2008 for the FL18 seat long held by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and also ran unsuccessfully for Miami-Dade County Commission last year. The two Garcias are not related.

The fact that candidates are perking up in public this early for an election still 16 months away has at least two foundations:

  • The investigations of Rivera’s finances and campaign funding make him a vulnerable first-termer;
  • Democrats are standing up to the tea party even in the face of evidence that such adherents as Republican US Rep. Allen West, a first-termer in FL22, is even more of a loose cannon than we thought.  His spat with Democratic National Committee Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, FL20, is in the papers daily.
West already has two Democrats vying to run against him in 2012, Patrick Murphy and Lois Frenkel. This is looking like a good cycle for political consultants.
And Joe Garcia can be found in the Miami Herald, too, on Wednesday, though not running for office (yet) but getting in a comment on a Republican gambit to stop travel to Cuba.

FL-25: Democrats galore interested — Annette Taddeo, Joe Garcia, Luis Garcia

Juicy stuff at the Miami-Dade Democratic Party meeting tonight – two admirable Democrats announcing they’re on the verge of running for the US House seat held by David Rivera. Here it is only July 2011 and it seems that FL-25 is in the Democratic Party hot zone well before the 2012 campaign season. In Washington the party apparatus (the DCCC) urges us to keep the heat on Rivera, calling attention to his votes against Medicare. And we can hope that the investigators will pull no punches in looking at his income and campaign finances.

State Rep. Luis Garcia, in his third term representing District 107  in Miami-Dade County (Little Havana, South Beach), was introduced early in the meeting and said he’s about to decide on FL-25. His embryonic campaign speech centered on immigration and civil rights, not to forget the dismal reputation of the incumbent: “David Rivera is a crook, folks,” Luis Garcia said.

A short while later Annette Taddeo, who ran a spirited 2008 campaign against Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in FL-18, which is the mostly southern neighbor of FL-25, said she, too, is close to deciding on a run. And she treated the party activist regulars to a bit of what sounded like a campaign speech focused on health-care issues, though she said she had only come to participate in elections for the October state party convention.

Is that all? Hold the presses! Joe Garcia just returned my call and said from Washington: “News of my death is greatly exaggerated.” Joe Garcia ran in FL-25 twice, unsuccessfully, but hasn’t given up. “I am thinking about running, but we are talking about a phantom seat,” he said.

He regarded Taddeo and Luis Garcia as making premature moves when the shape of the district is unknown amid redistricting. Florida gained two US House seats to 27 from the 2010 census. The Republican-dominated state Legislature has barely started the process of redistricting and instead is fighting the fair-districts referendum results that mandate against gerrymandering.

Earlier Monday there was news that Alan Grayson is about to go official with a run to regain the Orlando-area seat he lost in the 2010 Democratic national debacle. This sounds like a lot of early action to boost Democratic numbers in the US House. (During the writing of this post, in came an email from Grayson confirming he’s running. http://www.congressmanwithguts.com/)

As Luis Garcia said, it takes only 24 seats to take the US House back. Would that Florida could contribute two or more of those.

FL-25 runs from the western suburbs of Miami across the Everglades to encompass part of Collier County on the Gulf Coast of Florida. The Miami precincts are heavily Hispanic.

Joe Garcia, a former county Democratic Party chair, lost to Mario Diaz-Balart in 2008 and to David Rivera in 2010 after Diaz-Balart switched to run in FL-21 after his elder brother Lincoln Diaz-Balart retired. Rivera is closely linked with Marco Rubio, elected in 2010 to the US Senate. When both were in the Florida Legislature, the two of them jointly owned a residence in Tallahassee and they famously were foreclosed on.

Against such Republican shenanigans, Democrats have attractive possible candidates. Annette Taddeo is a young mother and successful businesswoman, much younger than Luis Garcia, who’s Cuba-born and a former Miami Beach fireman and fire chief as well as Miami Beach city commissioner before running for the legislature and taking a Republican-held seat in 2006. Taddeo has good Hispanic credentials as her mother is Colombian; her late father was an Italian-American and Korean War veteran. Joe Garcia is a US-born son of Cuban immigrants. He served in the Obama Department of Energy at the sub-cabinet level before resigning to run for Congress in 2010, and he was in Washington Monday for talks at the White House, he said, when he returned your blogger’s call. Need I say the two Garcias are not related?

UPDATE: Thanks to Millie Herrera who pointed out two errors in the first run of this blog post. They are corrected now to show Luis Garcia represents District 107 (not 109), and that Annette Taddeo made one run for the US House in FL-18 ( not two).

FL25: Joe Garcia at early voting site on Sunday

A tale of Twitter and a shift of door-knocking in FL25

People ask, “What do you do with Twitter? How can you say anything with only 140 characters?”

They haven’t been there with us picking away at letters and punctuation to cut a tweet and still be clear in 140 characters. They haven’t seen the magic of the URL-shorteners that wrestle a long whopper down to 10-12 characters.  They don’t see the thought beams that stretch out from the hash mark or the at sign — # and @.

People say, “Who cares what anyone had for breakfast?”

Agree with that last. My preferred tweets are about ideas, suggestions. A tweet with breakfast in it better include something about brain food.

So here are a couple tweets that got me thinking a little while ago. And the result is this blog post, which I’ll try to promote with tweets to my two Twitter accounts, plus notes on Facebook and Buzz.

Tweet at us, How many voters did you talk to today? #OFA #FL

First, some background. This morning I reported to the Joe Garcia campaign headquarters and went out with a couple of dynamite young Democrats, Alejandro Miyar and Courtney Whitney. Our mission was to vanquish a thick envelope with many walk sheets and a script aimed at convincing people to use their last chances to vote early this weekend. We split up the sheets and in a couple hours we called it a wrap. So the tweet above rang a pleasant bell to me in only about 60 characters – less than half the maximum permitted – and I realized I could contribute my information before the sheets were tabulated, possibly rather late this evening. (I know, because I have a campaign staffer staying in my spare room, and pretty often he’s up late at night entering data via his laptop.)

That tweet and the next one came from OFA Florida. That’s the Florida branch of Organizing for America — a k a the Obama campaign, a k a the Democratic National Committee. In other words, this is from President Obama’s right-hand campaigners.

If you’re on Twitter and not following OFA and OFA_FL (or the OFA of your own state) you should correct that oversight right away.

Here’s the tweet that came a little before the one above:

10,660,279 voters reached out to and counting by #OFA. Florida let’s move that number up. Make calls #NOW. http://OFA.BO/7in7

Now, we who have dabbled in political campaigns know that those big numbers are just that – big numbers. OK, yes, the campaign “reached out to” a lot of voters by phone and door-knocking, but a lot of them didn’t pick up, or weren’t at home, or they ducked away from the little spy window in the door, and they won’t listen to the phone message that you may or may not have left.

But we do know that we reach some people and make a difference in their state of knowledge, and, thereby, we can change their voting behavior.

So, here’s what I replied to that first tweet above:

@OFA_FL Did 5-6 walk sheets in FL-25 for #JoeGarcia, maybe a dozen real people. Hope I convinced 3-4 to vote early. Bit of a surprise.

Each walk sheet has a lot of names, so I might have had 100 names of registered voters. Most entries were for one person at one street address, but quite a few were for two names and several were for three or four at one address, so there probably were 50 addresses, and many many were not at home on this late Saturday morning, even though there might be two to five vehicles in the drive.

I didn’t do a tally of my contacts, but for OFA_FL I guessed I spoke with about a dozen real people. One door was especially fruitful. The four people on the list had just returned from voting early, and they said they were for Joe Garcia. Yay! I actually spoke to two of the four, and we all had smiles on our faces.

Not so good was the door where the voter, a 34-year-old registered Democrat, said she wasn’t going to vote because she doesn’t like politicians. I volunteered that Joe Garcia was a whole lot better than the usual run of politicians, but that didn’t change her mood at all, and I left it at that.

But that kind of contact is bothersome. It means that Karl Rove’s brand of dirty tricks has been successful in discouraging a good-hearted person from voting. I could tell from her voice and demeanor that she’s good-hearted, and therefore more likely to vote D – if she could overcome the distaste left by the TV commercials and mailers that pour onto her life in this season. Karl Rove is a thoroughly bad person, I’m convinced.

One quick example of a voter I may have convinced to vote early: A family at home, 20-ish daughter answers the door.  The target is a 61-year-old man, likely her father. He wasn’t aware of the early voting drill, and I could hand him the doorknob hanger with the addresses and advise him that Sunday afternoon was his last chance to get his vote in early.

One more, a more complicated story, which fortifies the idea that it’s good to keep talking, maybe something will come up. This address was at the bottom of one sheet, and as I came into the cul de sac, a woman came out of the garage with a dog on the leash. I assumed she was the 54-year-old female on my list and asked her if she had voted. We talked a little about early voting, and she asked me to leave the door hanger at her mailbox and she would pick it up when she got back from walking the dog.

So I did that while she walked out of the cul de sac, and then I pulled up the next sheet, and was a little chagrinned to realize that there were three more names at that lady’s address. From their ages, it looked like a daughter and two sons. So I went slowly to deal with the two next homes on the sheet, and then the lady came back with her dog, and I could ask about the other names. The daughter, she said, was living in Puerto Rico, and not likely to be voting absentee. The son – it turned out to be only one son though he was entered twice at the address, once as a Democrat and once as NPA – was a student in Tallahassee, she said, though he had come back home for the weekend. She doubted he had changed his voting address, and at my suggestion, she took another door hanger and said she’d make sure he votes early on Sunday afternoon. This was an African American family, and my saying that it was important to support President Obama in this election, even though he’s not on the ballot, seemed to be a telling point with her.

At this point I’ve got over 1,100 words about Twitter and its limit of 140 characters, and it’s time to stop.

Wait, I can’t forget the 40-ish man who promised he’d make his daughter vote for sure, and that he had voted already himself, and that he strongly supported Joe Garcia, whom he follows on Twitter and Facebook.  Yes!

FL-25: Joe Garcia’s opponent may be tossed off ballot

Hey, world! Florida is at it again! Sunshine State politics once again stand out from the crowd. However, unlike the pregnant chads of the 2000 election, or the constitutional amendment to protect pregnant pigs that passed some years ago, this latest development looks positive. The truth-challenged, ethics-challenged David Rivera now faces a strong legal challenge to his slot on the ballot for the US House seat in the 25th District of Florida.

Two recent bits of background are essential:

  • On Oct. 13 the Miami Herald published a searching look at Rivera’s income and financial statements and pretty clearly concluded that he hadn’t told the whole story. The Herald summarized the problem: “Congressional candidate David Rivera has said he’s a contractor for a federal agency — but the agency says it has never heard of him.”
  • On Oct. 15 a judge in Tallahassee ordered a Republican candidate for the State Senate in a Tampa-area district to be removed from the ballot because he hadn’t told the whole story about his finances. Sound familiar? Rather like David Rivera’s situation? Well, it’s a little different, in that the Republican, Jim Norman, was challenged in court by the loser in the Republican primary, Kevin Ambler. And, there’s no Democrat running, alas, alas. Read this for current machinations to put someone on the ballot.

It turns out that it’s in the Florida Constitution – a candidate must make truthful disclosures of his finances, or face removal.

Now up steps attorney William R. Barzee, a donor to Joe Garcia’s campaign to take away a Republican seat in the US House, and today he filed a suit in the 11th Circuit Court of Miami-Dade County demanding that Rivera be tossed off the ballot. This link takes you to the Miami Herald’s story on this development.

“If a private citizen breaks the law they go to jail. Politicians do not have a right to recklessly ignore our laws,” Barzee said in a statement. “It’s time for David Rivera to come clean or step aside.”

You can see in the Herald’s story that Rivera is steaming mad. The Garcia campaign has been yelling for days about the lack of clarity in the financial statements coming out of the Rivera camp.

No doubt, this will take a few more court dates to play out, and the election is only 12 days away.

We also can hope this trouble rubs off on Rivera’s former housemate, Republican US Senate candidate Marco Rubio. They jointly owned a home in Tallahassee when both were in the Florida House. A recent embarrassment to the two Republicans was news that they had been foreclosed on for failure to keep up the mortgage — talk about financially challenged!

Meanwhile, the Garcia campaign claims to be one of the best Democratic efforts in the country, with an energetic platoon of skilled field organizers and lots of volunteers – no evidence of an enthusiasm gap here. The 25th District encompasses the western reaches of Miami and its suburbs, across the Everglades to the eastern reaches of Naples. It has been held by the Republican, Mario Diaz-Balart, but its demographics are shifting away from Republican orbit, and the incumbent has moved his candidacy to the neighboring District 21, currently held by his elder brother, Lincoln Diaz-Balart, who is retiring. Wait, that’s quitting, not retiring. Republican quitters abound.

Let’s close with a reprise of the happy look of the Joe Garcia campaign.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6OkG5wrvKc

FL25: Canvassing for Joe Garcia

Your blogger was out canvassing Saturday for Joe Garcia in the western reaches of Miami, starting in the Garcia campaign HQ and following a team comprised of Jessica Elliott, Bob Remmen and his daughter Tara, who’s a high school senior. Terrific weather for walking and talking with voters. Though a few people identified themselves as discouraged by politics, we had a good reception at most doors and also talked a few hard-working landscapers onto the Joe Garcia bandwagon.

Room for more volunteers in the last month of the campaign. Sign up at JoeGarcia2010.com, and don’t forget all the other great Democratic candidates who want your help at MiamiDadeDemocrats.com.