I have a keen interest in the Florida District 25 Congress race between Mario Diaz-Balart and Joe Garcia, mainly because I live in said district. Also, it involves two Cuban-Americans and is a seat that the Democratic Party and its supporters are desperately seeking.
I figured it would be interesting to analyze some key issues and where the candidates stand. In doing this, I primarily used the information provided at their respective web sites, with frequent links provided. Keep in mind that aside from a couple of issues, neither candidate has offered many specifics (we do have MDB's voting record, however), and as such it's hard to make any clear opinions at this early stage.
Consider this post a preliminary look of sorts.
- IraqGarcia offers some goals and ideas
, such as a "safe and responsible end" to the Iraq war; not building any permanent bases in Iraq to avoid "fanning the flames of anti-American sentiment"; engaging in "vigorous diplomatic talks" with all sectors of Iraqi society; and engaging all of Iraq's neighbors in "extensive and principled diplomatic talks".Diaz-Balart provides little detail
other than "I voted for establishing the Department of Homeland Security and for military action against Iraq because I believe these were necessary steps to improve our national security." As a rank and file Republican in Congress, it's safe to assume that he's in line with the current strategy being employed in the region.
However, he does give what could be considered by some to be a somewhat moderate view of the Patriot Act: "While we must be proactive and diligent in the fight against terrorism, we must be careful to balance security concerns with civil liberties. Attempting to provide absolute security to law-abiding American citizens could undermine the freedoms that have made America the sole global superpower."
My analysis: a clear demarcation along party lines and ideologies, the best-defined difference between the two candidates.
- Economy:Garcia offers nothing in the way of specific ideas
, just general points such as lower taxes for working families, tax credits for small businesses, creating better jobs for South Florida and promoting investment in South Florida.
Diaz-Balart has his economic plan broken up into separate categories, making it hard to put together into a concise package. Regarding affordable housing
, Diaz-Balart favors "down payment assistance" and recently voted in favor
of the Section 8 Voucher Adjustment Act of 2007 sponsored by Democrat Maxine Waters of California (in fact, the Florida Republican contingent was split on this vote, with MDB voting in line with the Democrats). He did, however, vote against funding $70 million
for the Section 8 program back in 2006.MDB is more specific on taxes
, such as favoring the elimination of the marriage penalty and death tax, and pledged for American for Tax Reform
My analysis: We'll wait for Garcia to offer more specifics. In the meantime, Diaz-Balart's record doesn't offer any major surprises. Hopefully the debates will provide a clearer distinction.
This one's a bit more contentious, although at first glance the differences really aren't all that big. For example: both Garcia and Diaz-Balart state that affordable healthcare should be accessible to all. Diaz-Balart focuses on seniors and small businesses while Garcia specifically mentions those between jobs, working families and small businesses. Both advocate greater choice. Garcia, however, mentions that people should "always have healthcare". I'm not sure if this is an indication of support for universal health care, but it does sound like it.
The main disagreement lies with the vetoed S-CHIP bill. Garcia goes as far as illustrating the differences in his "factcheck" section
. He criticizes the South Florida GOP contingent for voting against the S-CHIP bill, stating that it would have helped thousands of immigrant children. He mentions a comment by MDB which I myself was critical
of back in October in response to the effect of a proposed tax increase on cigars that S-CHIP would have brought about. Mario stated that the cigar tax increase was an "attack" on the Cuban-American community. While I still believe that statement was a bit over the top and a poor choice of words, I agree with the general sentiment that taxing tobacco to fund S-CHIP is wrong, and President Bush was correct to veto the bill. Garcia also points out apparent contradictions in subsequent statements made by MDB
I'm sure this is something that will come out and become clearer as we get closer to the election.
- Education:Garcia hits a lot of the right notes here
, and is probably the issue that he's most specific and passionate about on the web site. I found it surprising that he favors No Child Left Behind, which puts him at odds with the traditional Democratic opinion.
Diaz-Balart is more general
, although he clearly expresses favoring school vouchers, as well as parental involvement and local involvement in decisions on school funding, all good ideas in my book.
My analysis: again, no apparent big difference here. Too early, I guess.
Neither candidate has a Cuba section on their web sites, but it's well known that the main differences between the two is that Garcia favors lifting travel restrictions by Cuban-Americans as well as allowing more remittances to go directly to dissidents. All in all, the differences really aren't as stark as Garcia and Diaz-Balart make them out to be, although what differences exist are important.
Garcia points out a comment
MDB made on Maria Elvira Live about castro allies' interest in the defeat of MDB and the other GOPers Congress members from South Florida, insinuating that MDB accuses Garcia of being one of those castro allies/appeasers. I would have to see the full transcript of that interview, not just a select sound byte before passing judgment on that accusation.
Even if Diaz-Balart meant to say that Garcia is a castro appeaser, that doesn't exactly absolve Garcia from making equally ridiculous comments about his opponents. In this Washington Times editorial, Garcia is mentioned as berating MDB's brother Lincoln
for helping nine disabled Ukranian kids obtain prosthetic limbs.
This is shaping up to be quite an interesting race, not necessarily because it MAY be a close one, but because of the obvious interest by Democrats to win the seat. Also, it's MDB's first serious challenge since he was first elected in 2002.
More on this in future posts, you can be sure of that!
Labels: District 25 Race