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Florida Freshman Rep. David Rivera's Future Plagued by Troubles

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo

"Everything is great on the Member-to-Member level," a Democratic Florida Member's aide said. "He has long-standing ties with many people in the current Congressional delegation because of their service together in the state Legislature." Florida won't finalize the redraw of its Congressional map until 2012, so the borders of Rivera's district won't be known for months.

Democrat Luis Garcia, a former fire chief, has already announced a bid against Rivera. In a sign that Democrats see the seat as vulnerable, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) headlined a fundraiser for Garcia last week in Miami.

In a statement to Roll Call, Hoyer said Garcia "is one of the best candidates running across the country, and his candidacy is one of the best opportunities we have to pick up a Republican seat."

"He would be a real asset to the people of South Florida in the House of Representatives," Hoyer added.

One other Democrat eyeing the seat is businesswoman Annette Tadeo, who lost to Ros-Lehtinen in 2008.

And some Republicans are already mulling bids for Rivera's seat. Many, however, are keeping a low profile until the freshman's future becomes clearer.

Three Republican names that have picked up particular buzz are state Sens. Anitere Flores, Miguel Diaz de la Portilla and former state Rep. J.C. Planas. They aren't talking yet, and it's unclear if any would mount a primary challenge against Rivera.

Ana Navarro, who worked for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) and is seen by political operatives in South Florida as one of the most plugged-in GOP consultants in the region, said she thinks Rivera has good name identification and could get through a primary without spending much money less than $150,000.

Navarro, who has known Rivera for many years and gave him a $250 donation last quarter, said the idea of a freshman resigning of his own volition was almost unfathomable. She said she had seen no sign that he was even considering such a drastic move. "Anybody who knows David knows that he will fight to the last day and he will have to be taken out of Congress kicking and screaming," she said.

"A lot of people, particularly donors, are in a wait-and-see mode," Navarro said. "But so far, there's been a lot more waiting than seeing."

Given all of his troubles, it's not a surprise the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is particularly gleeful in slamming Rivera. A spokesman pointedly noted that Rivera was considered a top candidate by the National Republican Congressional Committee, which supports all incumbents and hasn't said anything about the freshman's troubles.

"Once a darling of the GOP and an NRCC 'Young Gun,' Congressman Rivera's multiple investigations have forced him off the island," DCCC spokesman Adam Hodge said in a statement.

Rivera may be alone, but for now, with no indictments released, the freshman is still a survivor.

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