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Dems Face Off In Newly Created District 26

MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Florida will have two extra seats when the 113th Congress convenes next year.

One of those representatives will come from the newly created 26th Congressional district, which covers Monroe County and parts of South Miami-Dade County.

Democrats Joe Garcia, Gloria Romero Roses, Gustavo Marin and Lamar Sternad will face off in Tuesday's primary.

"We all want what's best for South Florida," Garcia said. "And it's a question of who do you think can do it best."

The four candidates are vying for a chance to take on District 25 incumbent Republican Rep. David Rivera. Rivera is running for re-election in District 26. The district lines were redrawn and approved earlier this year.

"People don't want to be mired in the problems of the past," Romero Roses said. "They want to go forward. And I intend to be the kind of leader that takes that conversation on."

Romero Roses is a first-time candidate. She grew up in Broward County, but attended college at Florida International University. She is a wife and mother with a background in real estate.

Garcia has run twice before, but lost in 2008 against Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart and in 2010 against Rep. Rivera. He is a Miami native who has served on the Florida Public Service Commission, the Cuban American National Federation, and as the chair of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party.

"You want someone who has experience," Garcia said. "You don't say, 'I'm going to hire a doctor but I want him to have absolutely no experience, I want him to be fresh'."

Gustavo Marin is a non-profit consultant, according to his campaign website.

Marin is a university professor and a founding member of CADA, the Cuban American Democratic Association.

Lamar Sternad is a hospitality executive from Cutler Bay. He is originally from Nebraska. He has never run for public office before.

The winner of the primary will go on to November's general election where they'll campaign for a chance to represent District 26, which includes The Keys, Florida City, Homestead, Goulds and parts of Kendall and Westchester.

"When redistricting was completed this past year, looking at the races in play, I promised myself that if I ran for office, I would do so where there was frankly a deficit of leadership," Romero Roses said.

Her platform includes fighting for women's rights, protecting seniors and creating opportunities for middle class families.

Garcia is focused on job creation, education and the environment.

Each of the candidates support the Affordable Care Act and the need for immigration reform.

"We need someone who doesn't go to Washington simply to represent ideological points of view, but to solve problems," Garcia said.

Romero Roses seemed to echo his sentiments about finding solutions to the issues facing the constituents of District 26.

"I think it's this fresh perspective towards problem solving, toward building coalitions, that Tuesday's voters are going to be selecting," she said.

As for Rep. David Rivera, he is under investigation over a secret dog-track contract. The Miami-Dade State Attorney's office did not charge him, but he still faces a federal investigation that may not be over before election day in November.

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