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Florida: Which Republican Will Challenge Garcia?

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Political ambition has never been in short supply in Miami. So it’s no surprise that there’s already talk in GOP circles of who might be eyeing the seat held by freshman Democratic Rep. Joe Garcia.

Garcia beat Republican David Rivera by more than 10 points in November, while President Barack Obama won the district by about 7 points. But that doesn’t mean the GOP won’t try to make the 2014 race competitive. Rivera was plagued by a series of ethical scandals that, presumably, the 2014 Republican nominee won’t have to contend with.

One top potential GOP candidate for the district — who was often floated as a potential primary challenger to Rivera last year — is state Sen. Anitere Flores. But sources close to Florida Senate leaders tell CQ Roll Call that Flores has assured them she’s not leaving the legislature to run for Congress.

Other names floated by Florida insiders as potential Garcia challengers include: Jeb Bush Jr., the son of former Gov. Jeb Bush; state Sen Miguel Diaz de la Portilla; former state Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla; Miami Dade School Board Member Carlos Curbelo; and state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz.

One potential candidate who would bring a national profile to a race is GOP strategist Ana Navarro. She served as an adviser to Arizona Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman’s 2012 presidential campaign, and she appears often on CNN.

“Being elected to Congress has not been on my bucket list,” she said in an email, but she acknowledged that “several prominent national and Florida Republicans” have chatted with her about a bid.

The district, redrawn during the decennial redistricting process, skews Democratic and includes parts of Miami-Dade County and the Florida Keys.

Jeff Garcia, Garcia’s chief of staff, said the Congressman was focused on his job, in particular the push for comprehensive immigration reform.

“There will be plenty of time for politics later,” he said.

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