Garcia Returning; Maryland Filings

Feb. 8, 2016 — The recent court-mandated Florida redistricting plan has made South Florida’s 26th District more Democratic, which could well lead to freshman Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo’s (R-Miami) electoral defeat. Though the Democratic leadership has been lining up behind ex-congressional and statewide candidate Annette Taddeo, former Rep. Joe Garcia (D-Miami) announced yesterday that he will return to the political arena in an attempt to re-capture his former position.

On his third attempt for Congress, Garcia, the former executive director of the Cuban American National Foundation, defeated then-scandal tainted Rep. David Rivera (R) in the 2012 election. Two years later, in the Republican wave election, Curbelo bounced Garcia back into private life.

The former representative has lost three of his last four congressional campaigns. Him now seeking a re-match with Curbelo does not please the party leadership. Remembering that Garcia was tossed partially because of his own political scandal, not unlike what happened to Rep. Rivera, isn’t something the Democratic chieftains want to revisit. Just when businessman Andrew Korge (D), also an announced congressional candidate and son of a major Florida Democratic contributor, decided to abandon his congressional campaign in favor of a state Senate contest, thus ostensibly clearing the primary field for Taddeo, Garcia makes his return apparent.

FL-26 will be a highly competitive district throughout the campaign season, and former Rep. Garcia’s re-emergence adds a new and unpredictable twist to the coming South Florida political proceedings.

Maryland

Now that the Maryland candidate filing deadline has passed, it becomes official that Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD-7) will not be running for the Senate. Never completely closing the door upon entering the open statewide campaign, the mystery finally ended with Rep. Cummings’ official filing for re-election. He will easily cruise to another term in his Baltimore-anchored 7th District, and the Senate race will be left for representatives Donna Edwards (D-MD-4) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD-8) to decide.

Despite Maryland being a strongly Democratic state, and dominated with repeated incumbent victories, Republicans are filing a large number of candidates in every federal domain. In the Senate race, 14 Republicans will be on the ballot even though they face long odds of defeating the Democratic nominee in a presidential election year. The top two Republicans are likely state House Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga and National Association of Manufacturers executive Chrys Kefalas.

In addition to representatives Edwards and Van Hollen topping the Democratic field, seven other party members will appear on the ballot. None of those, however, will have the resources to become a serious candidate.

In the House, featuring a Maryland delegation that consists of seven Democrats and one Republican, both parties filed candidates in every district. The Edwards’ and Van Hollen seats are both open, meaning spirited Democratic primaries in each will be decided on April 26.

The Prince Georges County-anchored 4th CD will likely be decided in a Democratic nomination contest between past Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and former Prince Georges County State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey, with four lesser candidates also running.

In Montgomery County’s 8th CD, open because of Rep. Van Hollen’s statewide bid, the Democratic field is more robust in featuring two business leaders, and three state legislators among the nine contenders. Here, former Marriott Hotels executive and ex-television news anchor Kathleen Matthews and state Senate Majority Whip Jamie Raskin have raised the most campaign money. Just entering the campaign is Total Wine retail chain owner David Trone who is capable of funding his own political effort.

Both the 4th and 8th Districts are expected to remain under Democratic Party control as no Republican in either race appears strong enough to carry the general election.

Rep. John Delaney (D-MD-6), who like Rep. Cummings never completely closed the door on the Senate race until filing for re-election yesterday, will seek a third term. He was almost upset in 2014, at the hands of former US Secret Service agent Dan Bongino (R). The Republicans will have a new candidate because Bongino has since moved to Florida, and former Army Deputy Under Secretary Amie Hoeber is likely the favorite among the eight Republicans running. In a presidential year, however, this suburban district will perform for the Democrats, so expect Rep. Delaney to win with a more comfortable margin than last election’s 50-48 percent spread.

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