Tuesday, September 30, 2008

FL-21, FL-25: Good news for Martinez and Garcia campaigns

Here we are at five weeks to election day – meaning three weeks to start of early voting – and the momentum looks positive for the Raul Martinez and Joe Garcia challenges to the Diaz-Balart rubber-stamp brothers.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

From the Blogs

Daily Kos: Corrupt GOP congressman caught red-handed

Ybor City Stogie: Joe Garcia: Ask Him A Question, And Take A Seat

MyDD: New Joe Garcia Ad: "Downward"

Eye on Miami (Sunshine Underground): A lie is a lie is a...

Miami-Dade Dems: FL-25. The incumbent the social climber

Ybor City Stogie: Local 10 Debunks Mario Diaz-Balart's False Ad

Eye on Miami (Sunshine Underground): It's Gonna Get Ugly

Eye on Miami: Guest Blog: Diaz-Balart Brothers that's who!

Miami-Dade Dems: Good prospects for three Democrats in South Florida congressional races

Ybor City Stogie: Joe Garcia: When Will Diaz-Balart Debate Me?

Mario: Health Care for Me, But Not For Thee

(Miami, FL) – Today, the Garcia campaign announced the release of its latest web ad titled "Beckham." The ad highlights how Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Euro) has the wrong priorities on healthcare. Diaz-Balart (R-Euro) has been quoted as saying he thinks our healthcare is just fine because athletes, celebrities and members of royal families can afford to get treatment in the United States.

"Mario Diaz-Balart believes our healthcare system should work for rich athletes, celebrities and members of royal families, instead of the 14,500 kids in our district whose healthcare coverage he voted against," said Giancarlo Sopo, New Media Director for Joe Garcia. "The people of the 25th District don't need a healthcare system that works for David Beckham, they need it to work for us."

The recording featuring Mario Diaz-Balart is from an August 22, 2008 event in Miami. See below for transcript.

Mario Diaz-Balart on Healthcare:

MDB: When was the last time that any of you heard an athlete (British soccer player, David Beckham), a celebrity (Mexican crooner, Luis Miguel), a royal family member (Prince Charles), who has a serious medical issue and they can pay, they can go wherever they want. Where do they come? Here!

Donate money to Joe Garcia

Monday, September 22, 2008

Mario Really Hates Ethics

Daily Kos

The Miami Herald is today reporting that Mario Diaz-Balart has been using tax-payer dollars to campaign in South Florida against BlueMajority candidate, Joe Garcia:

City taxpayers in Homestead footed the bill for nearly $500 worth of posters touting federal projects Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart has championed, city officials acknowledge.

Though the poster boards didn't bear Diaz-Balart's name, they were displayed at a fundraiser for the congressman whose district includes Homestead -- and were ordered up by the city mayor.

Apparently, this isn't the first time Mario Diaz-Balart has campaigned using tax-payer dollars.

Diaz-Balart Family Hates Ethics

Progreso Weekly:

I am pretty sure it was 1990 or 1991. Our second meeting was the only time I have broken bread with Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart. The place was the old Centrust Tower in downtown Miami. There was a little restaurant on one of the floors, halfway up the building. That's where we met.

The Centrust no longer exists. The building now carries a Bank of America sign. Lincoln and Mario no longer serve in the Florida legislature. They are now both members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Let me back up a bit. At the time I was a real estate broker. I was working with two Colombian investors here in Miami. They were father and son. Their last name was Pinsky. They were looking at properties to buy in Miami. They also represented a Colombian group who wanted to build a hotel in Costa Rica.

It's funny, but you never know where life, or in this case the possibility of a business, will lead you. I had mentioned the Pinskys to my father, who was then trying to enjoy his first retirement from Consolidated Bank. He put me in touch with wealthy investors from Miami who said they had connections to some people with strong ties to Costa Rica. They set up a first meeting with whom they termed as friends. We would be having coffee. Invited to the meeting were the Pinskys and my father, who were there with me, and the persons with the connection to Costa Rica, whose identity remained a mystery until the meeting. We had been told they had "incredible" sources. One of them, I was informed, was a Florida state senator.

Sitting down at our table when we arrived were Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart. Not good, I thought. We proceeded. Lincoln was then a Florida state senator and Mario a young and recently elected state House member. I must be fair and tell you that although my insides kept sending warning signals, the informal and quick meeting went well -- it was actually pleasant. The conversation centered on the Pinkys’ plans.

A lunch meeting was then arranged for a couple of days later. It was like night and day. The two brothers were there again. But this time, I saw the real Lincoln show up -- aggressive, as if almost mad. And Mario, as would become so usual, simply stared and nodded his head as his older brother spoke.

Anything was possible in Costa Rica, we were told by Lincoln. Their father, Rafael Diaz-Balart, would be able to handle any and all requests. He had, we were told, a very close friendship with the Costa Rican president. We were led to believe they were almost business partners.

Lincoln then threw down the gauntlet. He may have even hit the table as he addressed the Pinskys. Toward the end of the lunch, with neck-veins popping, red-faced and squeezed-together eyes, he demanded, "For this thing to happen you have to show good faith. You must deposit $100,000 in an escrow account under our control," he told my clients.

No deal ever went through. It was the last time any of us sat at a table with the Diaz-Balart brothers. Later on I was to find out that Rafael Diaz-Balart was under investigation in Spain for money lost by European investors in some kind of scheme.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Cry foul: Lincoln Diaz-Balart won't debate Raul Martinez

Sorry, little mistake in the headline. Replace the word foul with fowl, for chicken. That should be the modifier for Lincoln Diaz-Balart, who's not up to the challenge of meeting his challenger in the debate arena.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

From the Blogs

Miami-Dade Dems: FL-25: Sen. Bob Graham in festive endorsement of Joe Garcia

Eye on Miami (SunshineUnderground): Rubber Stamp

Eye on Miami (SunshineUnderground): A post Republicans will like

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Friday, September 12, 2008

Festive endorsement for Joe Garcia from Bob Graham

Some history lessons leap out at you with road signs. Well, today it was a sidewalk sign saying this building in the center of Kendall’s Miami-Dade College was the Dante Fascell Conference Center, and this was where Sen. Bob Graham was going to issue his endorsement of Joe Garcia for Congress in FL-25.

Joe Garcia is fighting to oust Bush rubber-stamp Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, and he was reminded repeatedly during the endorsement ceremony that he has very large shoes to fill since one of his predecessors would be the late Dante Fascell, congressman from South Florida for 38 years until 1993.

Most prominently, said Garcia’s former teacher Patrick Collins, Fascell stood alone as a Southern congressman who refused to sign the racist Southern Manifesto in 1956. That manifesto opposed the 1954 Supreme Court decision mandating an end to school segregation. It must have been like a profile in courage for a first-term Florida congressman to take that stand.

We shall hope fervently for Joe Garcia to be as principled and brave, and Collins suggested it was possible, since the young high school student developed “a zeal to ask penetrating questions and to question long-standing assumptions.”

Next speaker: Francisco “Pepe” Hernandez, president of the Cuban American National Foundation, hired Garcia right out of UM Law School and let him loose on a project that united thousands of far-flung Cubans with their families at no cost to the federal government.

“I am going to do my best” to elect Joe, said this pillar of the Cuban American community.

State Sen. Larcenia Bullard fired up the SRO crowd of students, supporters, reporters and six camera crews with chants of “Yes we will!”

The next speaker, Braulio L. Baez, said he’d always be for Joe despite being a “confirmed Republican” who had been appointed twice by Republican governors of Florida to head a state agency. He and Joe have both had the title of chairman of the Florida Public Service Commission. And both had their hair cut by Joe’s mother.

Bob Graham, former senator, former governor, onetime protégé of Dante Fascell, took the stage after having spent an earlier hour of the morning doing a conference call with the media for the Barack Obama campaign, focused on veterans’ issues. (I know, I was listening to it on my cell’s earbuds while driving to the Joe Garcia event.)

Graham blamed excessive partisanship as the main reason for “Washington is broken” but said “relief is on the way” in the form of the Obama campaign for president and Joe Garcia’s drive for congress.

“I am pleased to join you in endorsing Joe Garcia to be congressman from District 25,” Graham said, then introducing Garcia, who complimented him saying that this country would have been much better if John Kerry had selected Graham as his running mate in 2004.

Speaking to reporters after the event, Garcia ripped into his opponent for not being willing to ease restrictions on helping people in Cuba suffering from two disastrous storms, Gustav and Ike. “My opponent’s position is absurd, it’s patently cruel,” Garcia said. “We want the U.S. government to get out of the way and let people help their family and friends.”

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Video portrait of Mario Diaz-Balart

A little video to give you an edge.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Commentary in El Nuevo Herald hints at win for Joe Garcia

Thanks to the Joe Garcia campaign for finding and translating this opinion piece from El Nuevo Herald this past weekend. It concentrates on Joe Garcia's strong chances in the FL-25 race against Mario Diaz-Balart but is just as relevant to Annette Taddeo in FL-18 and Raul Martinez in FL-21: Florida "will not be an island" in the ocean of change coming on election day.

The entire piece is quoted hereunder, and this link goes back to the original Spanish.

It's not hard to guess why Mario Diaz-Balart prefers to avoid Joe Garcia these days. He doesn't want to bump into him at social gatherings at the Versailles Restaurant in Little Havana, much less on the radio, television or here in the Herald. Things happen when, after so many years of a family holding political power, all of a sudden, there is fatigue of the repeated speeches, the passing of days, generational shifts or the moment of political realignment in the country sounds several alarms that warn that the trendy word, change, is not only coming to the White House, but to the Congress as well. And this is going to happen to good ol' Joe.

Let's go piece by piece. Nepotism, regardless how nice the brothers of a dynasty may be, creates antipathy, whether it be in Florida, California, Texas, China or Vietnam. You also have to add that the same anti-Castro focus of the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s, no longer resonates in 2008. On the contrary, there is a boomerang effect, and you can no longer duck your head or use the same old story that generated votes in the past. Cuban-American voters clearly want change in their homeland, along with liberty and democracy, so they can once again breathe the breeze that stayed behind in Havana's piers. There is no disagreement on this issue, but alongside this exiled voting bloc, there is now a new voter. There is the young Cuban American that was born in the United States, and despite the love he may have for the grandparents and uncles he may or may not have met, he has a different vision of the problem. His origins may be in Cuba, but his school, university, wife, kids and future are in the United States. His first language is English, and he almost doesn't understand the rhetoric that dates back four decades of exiles talking about the death of the tyrant or the fall of the regime.

These young Cuban-Americans are affected by the drama of their peers, and the nostalgia less than 90 miles from Florida, but what they're more interested in is that a young politician, that speaks their language, is ready to solve their daily problems here in the United States. This has been the focus of Mr. Garcia's campaign. Aside from this generational dilemma, the Diaz-Balarts' and Ms. Ros-Lehtinen's problem, is that their Democratic opponents for Congress have surfaced while the country has been inspired by the optimistic change that Barack Obama signifies. During such a political climate, the standard-bearers of exile politics represent the exact opposite.

Some things happen when a candidate arrives that was born on Miami Beach; has longer hair; is known for being a good guy; is linked to the University of Miami; is well prepared; and close to various groups of Cuban Americans, prefers to speak less about the 'Cuba libre' we all want, and focuses more on speaking to voters, whose lives are committed to the country we live in, about pocket-book issues and their daily lives.

I'm not sure if there will be a electoral dethroning of the congressional Republicans, but what is felt in forums, letters to the media and in polls is that change is not only a perception, but rather a real possibility, with a candidate that shows personal respect toward his opponents and thinks they are not efficient and that the time for another option is now. Certain things happen when a veteran politician that follows the line of Diaz-Balart begins to understand that we find ourselves in a year where China changes, and that Florida will not be an island in this cry for change, and that's why he'll find every possible excuse not to be in the same place where he may have to debate, confront or analyze his rival. Joe Garcia is here to win.