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.
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:
· Ros-Lehtinen 58 percent
· Taddeo 31 percent
· Undecided 11 percent
· Lincoln Diaz-Balart 41 percent
· Raul Martinez 37 percent
· Undecided 22 percent
· 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 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.
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.