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Carlos Curbelo and the GOP Are Trying to Beat the Democrats at Their Own Game

September 20, 2018 - 6:00am
Carlos Curbelo and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell
Carlos Curbelo and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell

The campaign season's thermostat is turned up during the sprint to November, and as the TV ads and yard signs spread like political kudzu, so too are the tactics the candidates employ. Like most campaigns closely battled, some contentious accusations are getting tossed about in the U.S. House race between seated Rep.Carlos Curbelo, the Republican, and his Democratic challenger, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell.

With the national Democratic Party intent on swinging the two chambers of Congress in its favor, every seat is regarded as important. Curbelo’s position in particular has attracted attention because the region represented -- Florida’s 26th District, ranging from southwest Dade County south to Key West -- is a strong blue area. Curbelo is something of an anomaly: This district was strongly in favor of Hillary Clinton -- by +16 percent in the 2016 election -- and yet he is a two-time incumbent, with a double-digit victory in his last campaign. 

Showing the knowledge of a savvy veteran, Curbelo is not accepting that his seat is secure. He has held a decent lead in projections, with one recent DCCC poll showing him with a seven-point lead -- and that was prior to his TV ad buys. Now he has begun targeting Mucarsel-Powell, and he is using some techniques that have a familiar, albeit left-leaning, feel to them. 

Russia connections are always a hot-button subject hurled from the left, and currently the nation is gripped by the debate over inappropriate gripping, concerning the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation process. Curbelo has found a way to turn both of these subjects against Mucarsel-Powell. 

Given that our current climate is one in which any connection to Russia, no matter how tangential, is cause for accusations of underhandedness, then the fact Mucarsel’s husband is shown to have deep business interests with an oligarch has been brought out as a subject.

Initially reported in The Daily Beast, Mucarsel’s husband, Robert Powell, served as general counsel for companies owned in part by Igor Kolomoisky, a pro-Russia Ukrainian oligarch. 

The Mucarsel campaign strove to distance her from any involvement, stating either that Robert is not running for office, and one spokesperson calling the connection to the oligarch a “stretch”. But what's good for the goose is good for the gander. We just endured a cycle in which political pundit David Horowitz was deemed an anti-black extremist, and he has hosted political conferences where Ron DeSantis spoke -- thus leading to political opponents declaring the GOP gubernatorial candidate a “racist” by extension. 

A spouse working with Russians is less of a stretch. According to campaign financial records, Mucarsel declared her husband was the primary income earner, with the majority of his earnings coming from a trading company associated with Kolomoisky. In fact, over the past 10 years Powell has done work for at least four businesses that have direct ownership affiliations with the oligarch. 

Next, perhaps as a response to an allegation lodged by Mucarsel about donations to his campaign, Curbelo has come out to accuse his opponent of accepting donations from an accused sexual predator. At issue is a donation from a political committee headed by California Congressman Tony Cardenas. Cardenas is currently being taken to court over an incident where it is alleged he molested a 16-year-old girl.

Cardenas is the chairman of BOLD PAC, a fundraising arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. The charge is that accepting funds from the PAC chaired by a man under investigation for sexual harassment of a minor runs contrary to Mucarsel's statements. Just one week ago she declared, “We must always stand with victims of sexual violence and hold perpetrators accountable.” 

Mucarsel accused Curbelo of financial impropriety in a similar fashion early this year. Her campaign noted that he received donations from Rep. Patrick Meehan, one of the members of Congress shown to have used taxpayer funds to defend against and/or settle sexual harassment claims. The turnabout seems fitting, because the cases are similarly based. (Of note as well: Curbelo was recently denied membership into the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.)

The other connection, of course, is that Democrats are currently in full throat regarding the prospects of Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh. A new accusation that welled up involves a woman claiming a sexual assault occurred in high school with a then 17-year-old Kavanaugh. The charge, while light on factual details -- the accuser cannot recall the year, the location, or the owners of the home where the alleged attack happened, and never reported the incident to authorities -- is being forwarded as very serious by Dems, who demand FBI involvement and state this disqualifies Kavanaugh.

Meanwhile a far more credible charge leveled at a Democrat is given much kinder treatment. Mucarsel-Powell’s campaign spokesman, Mike Hernandez, says of the Cardenas issue, “She’s waiting to learn more of the facts as the case develops.” Her use of the strident term “always stand with victims” seems rather fluid now.

It is a reminder of the stark differences of opinion held by the party regarding the two cases. In the SCOTUS hearing, the Democrats declare the accusation alone is important enough to be believed. However, when one of their own, in an important congressional seat up for re-election, faces substantial charges that have actually been brought to authorities and to a court, the Democrats are more reserved in their reaction. 

With many national party leaders paying close attention to this race, Curbelo is showing he is willing to work intently even while playing with a lead. He is also showing Democrats that when it comes to their tried campaign methods, there is bi-partisanship with their application.

 

Brad Slager, a Fort Lauderdale freelance writer, wrote this story exclusively for Sunshine State News. He writes on politics and the entertainment industry and his stories appear in such publications as RedState and The Federalist.

Comments

Stupid headline and the article is just a waste of space. And, as far as Kavanaugh goes, the Democrats can investigate him as long as necessary to get the real goods on him and impeach him down the road when they have a majority in both the House and Senate, which will happen sooner than the current crop of GOP partisans expect.

Quite the admission the whole attack charge on Kavanaugh is BS. Plus the GOP should hold the Senate as most toss-up seats are held by Ds.

Curbelo was NEVER "the sharpest pencil in the box" and he has always been on George Soros' "regular payroll" (along with dead "Songbird" McCain, Rubio, Schumer, Kaysich, and Graham)... It would seem that Soros also had "his hand" in THIS "matchup" too (that way HE can't lose)------[....Curbelo & Mucarsel-Powell are a "match" made in Soro's mind, with the help of "Schumer Democrat game-planning"..]

Carlos becomes a raging independent every time there's an election, then goes back to voting the party line like the puppet he is. Florida Keys voters, we are having to raise roads while our congressman votes with the party of climate denial.

Using tactics, lies like that is what got repubs in trouble in the first place...………….And DeSantis was called and is racist because of what he said on national TV on Fox that Fox had to say just afterward they don't condone DeSantis language...…………...Repubs have been puling this too long and no one believes you anymore and the real silent majority has had enough and getting out to vote...…… As a real fiscal conservative what you've done is indefensible giving everything to the wealthy, corporations instead of helping people who actually need it….See you in November.

So far Russia Russia Russia and "victim politics" have been turds exclusively hurled at Republicans by Democrats. With liberal media fueled success for the Democrats. Glad to see a Republican finally sees we are not above picking up some of the turds Democrats have been slinging and hurling them back. Proud of you Rep.Carlos Curbelo!! Sling them turds my man!!!! Hey Rep.Carlos Curbelo please call up Ron DeSantis and teach him how to do that!!

So far Russia Russia Russia and "victim politics" have been turds exclusively hurled at Republicans by Democrats. With liberal media fueled success for the Democrats. Glad to see a Republican finally sees we are not above picking up some of the turds Democrats have been slinging and hurling them back. Proud of you Rep.Carlos Curbelo!! Sling them turds my man!!!! Hey Rep.Carlos Curbelo please call up Ron DeSantis and teach him how to do that!!

Turd slinging? This is the collective intellect that has fallen upon the Republican party. I used to think the uneducated, angry white man stuff was a myth. You have proved us all wrong...

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