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Battle to Replace Mario-Diaz Balart Heating Up

July 12, 2010 - 6:00pm

Rep. David Rivera, R-Miami, the front-runner for the Republican nomination in the race to replace U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, won a straw poll and gained an endorsement Monday while Democratic rival Joe Garcia announced his campaign reeled in more than $700,000 in the second quarter of 2010.

Diaz-Balart currently holds the seat in Congressional District 25 which he is vacating to run for the seat currently held by his brother, U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart. The district stretches across the southern part of the state, taking in parts of Collier, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties.

Rivera won the support of the Republican Party of Collier County and he won a straw poll held by the Golden Gate Civic Association.

I continue to be humbled by the growing support for my campaign to represent the residents of Congressional District 25, said Rivera. Thank you to the voters of Golden Gate, and to the members of the Republican Party of Collier County for their vote of confidence.

On Monday, Collier Republicans and the people at the Golden Gate Civic Association forum spoke loud and clear, added Rivera. They want a congressman who will fight to fix Washington and who will focus on issues of concern. That is what I will do in Congress. As we continue to build momentum, I will continue to work tirelessly to win this campaign to represent Congressional District 25.

In the meantime, Garcia, who ran against Diaz-Balart in 2008 and worked in the Obama administration, revealed that his campaign had taken in more than $700,000 -- with more than $230,000 of that coming from online donations.

"I am humbled by the enthusiasm for our grass-roots campaign to create jobs and get South Florida moving again, said Garcia. We are confident our grass-roots campaign will have the resources to present South Florida's families with a clear choice between someone who will roll up his sleeves to create jobs and a controversial Tallahassee politician that's beholden to special interests."

Rivera raised more than $700,000 in the first quarter of 2010 even though he had only been in the race for a month. His campaign is expected to announce its second quarter fund-raising later in the week.

While Rivera and Garcia are the front-runners for their respective partys nominations, they do face opposition. Rivera faces attorney Marili Cancio and retired Marine officer Paul Crespo in the Republican primary on Aug. 24. Garcia takes on labor activist Luis Meurice who has been endorsed by the state AFL-CIO.

Reach Kevin Derby at, or at 850-727-0859.

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