Republicans seek to unseat incumbent Democrat

First congressional debate organized by Women's Republican Club

MIAMI – The five candidates in one of the most watched Republican Congressional primaries in the nation agree on most every issue and one priority -- unseating the incumbent Democrat.

"Remember who our opponent is: Joe Garcia," said school board member Carlos Curbelo.

In the first debate, organized by the Women's Republican Club, the candidates took on the economy, foreign policy and tax reform, and largely played nice.

"I believe deeply it's the voice of the people you should be speaking," said Cutler Bay Mayor Ed MacDougall.

The packed house seemed glad to see former U.S. Rep. David Rivera, the man who lost District 26 to Joe Garcia two years ago.

Rivera has struggled with questions about filing improper financial disclosure forms during his time in the Florida statehouse and about a fake candidate named Justin Sternad, put up to run against Garcia in his 2012 primary.

"I'm going to fulfill my commitment to the voters to focus on the issues that matter to them most, which is improving the economy and creating jobs," said Rivera. "I'm not going to deviate one iota."

That is the kind of response Rivera gives now regularly, though in the past has denied he never met Sternad.

"If you start beating up on each other right now, Joe Garcia is going to have an upper hand," said Joe Martinez.

"This race is about integrity and who can beat Joe Garcia," said Lorenzo Palomares-Starbuck.

The primary is Aug. 26.

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