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Updated Oct. 14, 2010
After White House and national Democratic officials persuaded 2008 nominee Joe Garcia to take another run in this district, they were optimistic that the sprawling South Florida seat represented one of the party's rare takeover opportunities.
Favorable voter registration trends have made the district nearly evenly split between Democrats and Republicans two years after Garcia took 47 percent against Diaz-Balart.
But Republicans have a much more favorable environment this year and state Rep. David Rivera has proved to be a formidable recruit who has raised serious money and earned the full support of the Diaz-Balart dynasty and the National Republican Congressional Committee.
The campaign hasn't lacked for personal attacks.
Democrats have questioned Rivera's fitness for office by highlighting a bizarre traffic accident from 2002, in which a car Rivera was driving collided with a delivery truck that was carrying the ads of a political opponent. Democrats have also tried to tie Rivera to a 16-year-old domestic violence case.
Rivera, who champions taking a hard line against the Cuban government, has called Garcia an apologist and "henchman" for Raúl and Fidel Castro's communist regime. Republicans think Garcia's work for the Obama administration will help them paint him as a Washington insider.
This race bears watching in the campaign's final weeks. Democrats say they're optimistic, but the climate might make this pickup too tough.
District Profile from Politics in America
The predominately Hispanic 25th takes in a broad swath of land covering the western portion of Miami-Dade County and almost all of Collier and Monroe counties' land area. Although geographically centered in Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve, more than 85 percent of the population lives in Miami-Dade County, mostly on the western edge of the Miami region and in areas south of the city.
The Hispanic community has grown markedly since 2000, and the 25th now has more Hispanic residents than any other Florida district, although overall population growth means the percentage of Hispanic residents remains lower than the 21st District's.
Many residents commute to Miami for work, but agriculture is a mainstay for the local economy. Infrastructure development in Collier County might aid economic recovery in the area, after retail and construction downturns and housing market collapses hit Collier and Miami-Dade.
National parks give the 25th an ecosystem and array of wildlife -- from manatees to panthers -- not commonly found in North America, and they are significant tourist draws. Restoration of the Everglades, oil drilling and the pace of development will remain contentious issues.
A shrinking party registration edge means that Republicans only slightly outnumber Democrats here. The 25th has the state's highest percentage of independent voters.
Homestead, 60,512; Kendale Lakes (unincorp.), 56,148; Tamiami (unincorp.), 55,271
Everglades National Park covers 1.5 million acres, just a small portion of the Everglades.
|2010||general||David Rivera (R)||74,859||52.1%|
|Joe Garcia (D)||61,138||42.6%|
|Roly Arrojo (TEA)||4,312||3%|
|Craig Porter (FWP)||3,244||2.3%|
|2008||general||Mario Diaz-Balart (R)||130,891||53%|
|Joe Garcia (D)||115,820||46.9%|
|2006||general||Mario Diaz-Balart (R)||60,765||58.5%|
|Michael Calderin (D)||43,168||41.5%|
|2004||general||Mario Diaz-Balart (R)||unopposed|
|2002||general||Mario Diaz-Balart (R)||81,845||64.6%|
|Annie Betancourt (D)||44,757||35.4%|
|2008||Barack Obama: 49%||John McCain: 50%|
|2004||John Kerry: 44%||George W. Bush: 56%|
|2000||Al Gore: 44%||George W. Bush: 54%|