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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Democrats find new challenger to David Rivera



roses.jpgPatricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald reports: After weeks of intra-party turmoil, Democrats appear to have settled on a candidate to run against Republican Congressman David Rivera: Colombian-born businesswoman Gloria Romero Roses. 

Roses announced her intention to run in a statement released Monday by the Florida Democratic Party -- a sign that she has the backing of the Democratic establishment, which has been in disarray over how to challenge Rivera. State Rep. Luis Garcia of Miami dropped out of the race last week after accusing national Democrats of double-crossing him and recruiting other candidates. (Garcia is now running for Miami-Dade County Commission.)

Democrats initially tried to recruit former Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas to run instead of Garcia. Once it became clear that he was leaning against a campaign, they looked elsewhere -- including to Roses, as we reported last week.

A political newcomer, Roses has never before run for office. She manages Nexus Homes, a business that partners investors with assisted-living operators in Florida. She has also worked in real estate.

It is clear from the statement launching her campaign that Roses plans to play up her business experience and, not surprisingly, attack Rivera for the cloud of investigations into his personal and campaign finances that has followed him since before he was first elected in 2010, though a state probe has since stalled.

"As a real estate professional, I have seen the boom-bust cycle of our local economy that comes from our reliance on construction and housing to be the economic engine," she said in the statement. "Florida's growth has been stagnant coming out of this downturn in part because Congressman David Rivera has been too focused on defending himself in his ongoing scandals rather than fighting for jobs and strengthening our small businesses."

National Democrats view Rivera, who is Cuban-American, as vulnerable, his campaign fundraising hobbled by the investigations against him. Roses' statement included a quote from Florida Democratic Party Executive Director Scott Arceneaux calling Rivera "corrupt."

But the rookie Roses will likely face a tough race against the incumbent Rivera, a once-formidable fundraiser who has been quietly campaigning in the new Congressional District 26. Following once-a-decade redistricting, the district now stretches from Southwest Miami-Dade to Key West.

[Last modified: Monday, April 9, 2012 10:04am]


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