Sunday, August 16, 2009

Joe Garcia for Congress? A dream of the past, but Mel Martinez may have made it possible again

We're hearing a Republican rumor that Gov. Charlie Crist may appoint US Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart to the US Senate seat being vacated by Mel Martinez before his time is up. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, not known as senatorial material among reasonable people, would be a caretaker rather than someone to bother Crist's own ambition to become senator, according to this rumor.

UPDATE: Diaz-Balart took himself out of consideration late Monday. Here's a link to the Miami Herald story on it. Since this is in flux, I'll let the rest of this post stand for at least a while. Who knows what will bubble up next? END UPDATE.

Then Lincoln's brother Mario Diaz-Balart, currently representing District 25 in the US House, would move to Lincoln's more strongly Republican District 21 and save his own hide from defeat by a Democrat in the 2010 election. Lincoln would cease seeking federal office, and the bothersome Marco Rubio, former speaker of the Florida House who's contending for the US Senate nomination against Charlie Crist, would run for the US House instead. So goes this convoluted reddish rumor.

Where's Joe Garcia in this? He won't stand for it. Gonna stick his strong Democratic candidacy into these machinations somewhere if the Republicans continue along these lines. This corner speculates that Garcia, with impeccable Cuban American credentials from his years as executive director of the Cuban American National Foundation, would run again in District 25, where he ran strongly against Mario Diaz-Balart in 2008, losing only 52-48. The district's Democratic Party numbers have constantly grown since then and Mario faces the end in 2010 -- especially if Joe Garcia is the Democratic candidate.

In the past few months it appeared that Garcia was bowing out of any run for federal office as he was nominated by President Obama to be director of the office of minority economic impact in the Department of Energy. He still needs US Senate confirmation for that post but has been approved at the committee level. Interestingly, Sen. Mel Martinez gave an introductory speech for Garcia at the hearing of the Energy Committee, praising Garcia's past work on refugee resettlement and on the Florida Public Service Commission.

One question that arises is why the great state of Florida should have a mere caretaker senator like Lincoln Diaz-Balart for the next year and a half of crucial legislation on health care, energy and environment, immigration, financial reform and other burning issues left from the George Bush era of maladministration. Which is why none of this may arise -- but anyway, then why is the Republican rumor machine running with this?

For the uninitiated, these two congressional districts cover the western reaches of Miami-Dade County and over the Everglades to part of Collier County and a bit of Broward, too. It's a part of our world that deserves better representation than it has had from the Diaz-Balart brothers. For instance, let's get real about saving the Everglades.

Follow the link for the Miami Herald's take on some of this -- especially Florida's loss of punch if a caretaker is in the Senate. The Herald and most everyone else neglect the fact that the 17th amendment to the US Constitution says there should be an election to fill a Senate vacancy, and an appointment is given second place. If only our elections weren't so cumbersome and expensive.

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