By John McArdle | CQ-Roll Call
(original title: Florida 25: More Than Just an Open Seat)
With the November forecast ominous for Democrats, some factions within the party are watching to see how aggressive the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will be to put Florida’s 25th District seat in play.
Noting the opportunity to poke a big hole in the GOP alliance with Cuban-American voters, many party insiders are openly advocating that the DCCC should invest the effort.
But that’s easier said than done when the party will be devoting almost all of its available resources to protecting Democratic seats.
The South Florida seat opened up when GOP Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart decided to switch districts and run to succeed his brother, retiring Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart .
An early clue as to whether Democrats plan to take an aggressive approach in the heavily Cuban district may soon come in the form of a recruiting announcement.
If Democratic leaders can persuade former Miami-Dade County Democratic Party Chairman Joe Garcia — who came 6 points shy of defeating Mario Diaz-Balart in 2008 — to leave his job with the Energy Department and take another shot at the 25th district, it will be a sign that House Democrats are very serious about picking up the seat.
Garcia had a meeting with DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) on Monday evening and has also been encouraged by administration officials to take another look at the race.
In an interview last week, Garcia would say only that he’s “very pleased” with his job in the Obama administration.
“That’s what I’m busy doing right now. All the other speculation is speculation,” he said. “I have served my country in many different capacities, and if I am asked to do so by the president I will of course consider” the congressional race.
The DCCC has also reached out to Katherine Fernandez Rundle, who has served Miami-Dade County as state attorney since 1993.
Simon Rosenberg, the president and founder of NDN and a Democrat with past experience working in South Florida, said Garcia would be the best candidate — and that his candidacy would be particularly important, because the race means more to some Democrats than simply picking up a House seat.
“This is not a typical congressional fight right now,” Rosenberg said. “This has implication for control of the most important swing state in American politics. ... The Cuban-American political machine in South Florida was instrumental in giving George Bush the presidency in 2000. To break apart the Republican Cuban machine in South Florida is a national priority for the Democratic Party.”
Garcia, the former executive director of the Cuban American National Foundation, has the credentials and the contacts to run the kind of campaign that could begin to dismantle the GOP’s longstanding alliance with South Florida’s large Cuban-American community.