Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Re-elect? NO for 2 of 3 Republicans in South Florida

RING, RING: It’s my cellphone ringing Wednesday afternoon, and on the line is the third Democrat in the Congressional races referred to above, Annette Taddeo. She doesn’t like the implication that her campaign may not be doing well. So I’m going to include her comments in boldface and write through some of the material in this post from Tuesday July 8.

This is terrific news for those campaigning for a strong Democratic House of Representatives. Fresh polling shows two of the three sitting Republicans in Miami-Dade County under the 50-percent threshold of incumbent viability.

So why am I disappointed? Darn, my incumbent Republican representative, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, is not below the threshold. That’s FL-18, where Ros-Lehtinen has been in office since 1989. This is a call to renewed and more intense work on behalf of the excellent Annette Taddeo, the Democratic challenger in this district that covers the coast from Miami Beach to Key West and a chunk of mainland Miami.

Taddeo feels strongly that her campaign is on schedule for victory, and in fact that Ros-Lehtinen is far more vulnerable than the poll in Monday’s Miami Herald would have you think. Taddeo said her campaign did a poll in November that showed only 50 percent willing to re-elect Ros-Lehtinen, and a recent poll showed only 48 percent for re-electing the incumbent.

So, all three Republicans are below the waterline! This is what I’ve been calling Landslide Country for months!

And, Taddeo said, even the 31 percent she registered in the Bendixon poll (see below) was “extremely good for me” considering that she hasn’t put out any ads yet and she’s not politically well-known like her fellow challengers, Martinez and Garcia.

But her best news came from a different kind of polling, what Taddeo called “informed trial heat,” in which respondents are questioned as if a campaign had been going on and they had heard positive and negative things about the incumbent and challenger. In that case, Taddeo was ahead, 44 percent to 42 percent, she said.

This polling has been done by her own campaign, a sign of a well-financed and professional challenge to the long-serving Republican.

“We need to raise money to let people know how she votes in Congress,” Taddeo said. “Then she’s finished.” Ros-Lehtinen’s votes, of course, are for the war, for torture, for illegal wiretapping, against expanding children’s health insurance, etc. Typical Bush rubberstamp, though she denies it – a sign of a bad conscience.

That reminds me: Ring, Ring. “This is Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen … “

That was on my voicemail Tuesday, my representative in the U.S. House robo-calling me, no doubt to explain that she’s done so much that she ought to be elected again. Well, dear lady, I don’t give a fig if you’ve dredged the Miami River with a teaspoon yourself. Tell me you’ve stopped the war, stopped torture. Oh, no?? You’re very bad on the big stuff.

OK, back to the rest of the story from yesterday:

Better news for Joe Garcia in FL-25 (the outer western suburbs of Miami and The Everglades) and even better for Raul Martinez in FL-21 (inner western suburbs of Miami). They are almost within the margin of error – barely behind the brothers Mario Diaz-Balart and Lincoln Diaz-Balart, respectively.

They all need your help. Click on these links and give something. South Florida can be another of these places around the country where the Bush rubber-stampers properly are punished by the voters.




Polling by Bendixon & Associates shows the following numbers in response to the question of which candidate you would support if the election were held today:

District 18

· Ros-Lehtinen 58 percent

· Taddeo 31 percent

· Undecided 11 percent

District 21

· Lincoln Diaz-Balart 41 percent

· Raul Martinez 37 percent

· Undecided 22 percent

District 25

· Mario Diaz-Balart 44 percent

· Joe Garcia 39 percent

· Undecided 17 percent

There are two comprehensive reports available for further provocation of your thoughts. The Miami Herald’s headline has the incumbents’ rivals “on their heels.” And CBS4 with Jim Defede is replete with advice that Garcia and Martinez concentrate on getting out the vote among undecided Anglos and African-Americans in their districts, because the Cuban voter has mostly already decided.

I want to go on and raise the question of how Barack Obama’s just-arriving campaign may affect these congressional races. Remember, Florida was not on the main burner of presidential campaigning until the Democratic nomination was decided elsewhere – thanks to the too-early primary date imposed by the Republican-dominated state legislature. So while the Obama campaign got its feet on the ground everywhere else in the country, it was only a few valiant local volunteers who stoked the flame of Obama enthusiasm with parties to watch the primary results in other states and other minor-key events.

It has been different now for a couple of weeks. There is a state campaign office and local campaign offices, with 250 Obama Fellows arriving lately in South Florida alone. These mostly young volunteers have been at meetings of our Democratic clubs, as well as running voter-registration events and recruiting more volunteers. Last night at the Miami-Dade Democratic Party’s meeting of the Executive Committee, three of the Fellows spoke, and a prominent part of their message was a promise to work for Democratic victories all along the ticket – not just the president.

All this, I’m sure, will help our Democratic Congressional candidates. And it’s earlier than we’ve had such campaign energy in the past. Certainly not in the 2004 campaign season, when the John Kerry campaign was barely visible four months before election day. Now is the time to make up some of that narrowing gap and send all three of our Republican incumbents home from Congress.

Again, Annette Taddeo is confident that she’s running strongly against Ros-Lehtinen. Taddeo’s Colombian background – she was born there to an American father and a Colombian mother – got her a lot of exposure in Spanish-language media recently after the release of the hostages in Colombia. And keep your eyes open for an important endorsement for Annette.

Endorsements in the news: labor unions, Cuban-American leaders

Joe Garcia and Annette Taddeo at a community candidates' forum Saturday -- empty chair for "no show" Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

(Belatedly cross-posting this from Miami-Dade Dems dated July 1.)

Chapter I: Labor endorsement

In Tuesday’s Miami Herald it’s revealed that Lincoln Diaz-Balart was not – repeat NOT – endorsed by some of the labor unions that once endorsed him. Also it’s revealed that the Republican representing Florida’s 21st District sorta fibbed in a news release claiming that he had been endorsed by those unions. Ooops. The Democratic challenger, Raul Martinez, asks for an apology.

And let’s be clear about the wider issue of labor endorsements. The three Democratic challengers for Congress – Raul Martinez, Joe Garcia (FL-25) and Annette Taddeo (FL-18) – are endorsed by the Florida AFL-CIO. Down with the Republican incumbents!

Way down in the Herald article is a reason why the unions reversed earlier backing of the Diaz-Balart brothers and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. The three had committed to the Labor Free Choice Act, which makes it easier to form unions, and then they failed to support it in the House. This is what we call behavior of finks.

UPDATE: Click here to read the news release about the AFL-CIO endorsement of the three Democratic candidates.

Chapter II: Cuban American endorsement

Monday evening, a lively gathering at the cocktail hour at the waterfront villa of J.C. Mas and his wife Vivian de la Maza. It’s a fund-raiser for Joe Garcia, the last day of the reporting quarter, and this is a well-heeled and enthusiastic crowd for Garcia’s candidacy.

Host J.C. Mas, son of the late Jorge Mas Canosa, longtime head of the Cuban American National Foundation, introduces Joe Garcia (whom he’s known since college) by admitting that he has given to the Diaz-Balarts in the past but now he has to ask “whether I want them to represent me as a Cuban American.”

“Honestly, when you look at the fact that they only have one issue they can talk about, and they are not addressing this community or all the needs of this community, I think that is something that needs to change. I think they’ve had plenty of opportunities and plenty of time to make their impact, and their impact really is nonexistent.”

He went on to urge the crowd to support Joe Garcia – “a man of honor and of integrity and ultimately more talented to bring hope to our community and to assist us with the enormous needs in this diverse community.”

We’ll see if a few weeks how the campaigns of Joe Garcia, Raul Martinez and Annette Taddeo are faring in the fund-raising area for the second quarter. They out-raised the incumbents in the first quarter. Let’s hope that the fund-raising totals show continuing endorsement by both the well-off crowd and the smaller donors who turned out in droves early this year.

Chapter III: DCCC endorsement

And let’s not forget that the Democratic Party machinery is increasingly behind our challengers. Garcia and Martinez have been endorsed by the Red to Blue committee, an arm of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and Annette Taddeo has been elevated to status of a promising candidate on that ranking. She also attended the Monday evening event in Coral Gables, and appeared with Joe Garcia Saturday at a community candidates' panel, where I snapped the photo at the top of this report.

And lest you think that all the above is in the local news media, Chapter II is not. It's my little exclusive from having been at the fund-raiser (my check is in the mail, Joe).