Thursday, February 11, 2010

Anti-Cuba Fanatic Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL) Retiring From Congress


One down 3 to go-- for a cleaner Miami-Dade

I often argue with a good friend in Congress who is forever defending Debbie Wasserman Schultz. He likes her because she's "a tiger" who wants to win and in her position at the DCCC "winning" means defeating Republicans, something she takes to with gusto. Sometimes. Although I was aware of Wasserman Schultz's tendency towards corruption for some time, it wasn't until the spring of 2008, when she decided-- like some kind of feudal baron-- to give three GOP amigos of hers, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and the notoriously fascist Diaz-Balart Brothers (Lincoln and Mario), a free pass, as the DCCC honcho for their Red to Blue program, for easy re-election bids, that I started covering her shenanigans. The grassroots firestorm that ensued eventually forced her to back down-- publicly-- but behind the scenes, she continued working diligently-- like a tiger-- to sabotage the 3 Democrats running in Miami Dade against her Republican pals. This morning, the worst of the three, Lincoln Diaz-Balart, whose father, Rafael, was in charge of torture under the Batista fascist dictatorship when little Lincoln was scampering around Havana before the Revolution, announced he would not be seeking re-election. Lincoln has always had pretensions of being installed as the post-Castro president of Cuba. He didn't talk about that in his announcement, only that he would return to practicing law and, of course, trying to undermine the legal government of Cuba.

Lincoln, then a state Senator, was first elected to Congress in 1992 to the newly created 21st CD. The district was so Republican-- and so obsessed with virulent anti-Castro mania-- that Diaz-Balart only ever even had one Democratic opponent until 2008, and even in 2008 it was only because Libertarian Frank Gonzalez had proven that he wasn't quite as invincible as conventional wisdom had declared. The district, which is around 70% Hispanic and has a PVI of R+6, meanders north from Cutler, Kendall, Glenvar Heights and Sunset, southwest of Miami, up through Hialeah and Miami Lakes to southern Broward County (Pembroke Pines and Miramar). Although the 70% Hispanic make-up looks daunting for a challenger, just over half of that number is Cuban. Non-Cuban Hispanics tend to be overwhelmingly Democratic. The district has the lowest number of registered voters of any CD in Florida but that is changing-- and changing as more and more Democrats register to vote.

Diaz-Balart has been relatively moderate by Republican standards-- one of only 3 congressional Republicans to refuse to sign the Contract With America and refusing to go along with some GOP legislation that targeted working families and immigrants-- but he has led the fanatic anti-Castro jihad against Cuba. This year he tied Ahn Cao (R-LA) in the number of times he crossed the aisle to vote with Democrats on close, divisive roll calls and only 8 Republicans did it more frequently.

In 2008 his Democratic challenger was Raul Martinez, a former mayor of Hialeah and widely viewed as even more corrupt than a normal politician. He held Diaz-Balart down to a 58% win, his worst showing ever. Obama took 49% of the district. Demographically, this district is no longer safe for Republicans. Oddly, though, this morning's Miami Herald reported that Lincoln's younger-- and stupider-- brother, Mario, is likely to abandon his own neighboring district, which is going blue even faster (Mario only scraped by with a 53% win last time), and run to replace Lincoln in the 21st. State Senate Majority Leader Alex Diaz de la Portilla, term-limited out of his own seat, is also likely to jump in to the primary race. (His own older brother, Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, is running for his seat! Many, many unsavory Cuban political traditions followed the first wave of elitist refugees from the Revolution to Miami.)
Democrats believe they have a decent shot at picking up Mario Diaz-Balart’s seat, if he chooses to switch races, and are working to recruit former Miami-Dade Democratic Party Chairman Joe Garcia into the race for a second straight time. Garcia ran competitively against Mario Diaz-Balart in 2008, winning 47 percent of the vote. He now serves in the Obama administration, as the Department of Energy’s director of the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity.

Lincoln is the 18th incumbent Republican leaving the House-- as opposed to 12 Democrats. More than 1 in 10 Republicans are retiring. If Mario really does jump from FL-25 to FL-21, it is likely Joe Garcia will win the seat-- and this time Wasserman Schultz won't be standing in the way.
Giancarlo Sopo, a former advisor to Garcia's 2008 congressional campaign, says the Miami Democrat has been on the phone with the White House and the Democratic National Congressional Campaign Committee about running again for the district now held by Mario Diaz-Balart -- who is likely to move over to the more Republican-leaning congressional district being vacated by his brother. Both the White House and the DCCC, Sopo said, "are pledging their full support behind his candidacy in 2010.

"Mario's being run out of the district because it's changing," Sopo said. Garcia, Sopo said, is "now serving the country and enjoying spending time with his family, but given the latest political developments, a run for Congress in 2010 seems inticing."

Garcia gave Mario Diaz-Balart the strongest challenge of his congressional life in 2008, coming within a few points of winning the seat. One clue he might be running again: the domain name "" has already been claimed.

Labels: , , , , ,


At 5:55 AM, Blogger Techeads said...

¡hasta la vista! 'baby'

At 5:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Draft Joe Garcia to run for Congress:


Post a Comment

<< Home