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Fight For Congressional Seat Gets Nasty In Florida

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The fight for a U.S. Congressional seat is heating up between incumbent U.S. RepresentativeCarlos Curbelo and his challenger Joe Garcia with allegations of corruption and bowing to special interest groups.

Congressman Curbelo is seeking a second term in Washington from a district that's changed since he was first elected.

"This community deserves a member of Congress who is willing to fight for this community every single day," said Curbelo.

Congressional District 26 includes parts of West Miami-Dade, Homestead, Everglades National Park and all of Monroe County. It was redistricted by the legislature and federal courts in 2015.

It's now about 36 percent registered Democrats, 32 percent Republican and 31 percent no party affiliation.

Enter former congressman Joe Garcia who believes the edge in Democratic voters will benefit him.

"I'm very proud of representing people at the local level at the state level and at the federal level," said Garcia.

Garcia represented the district for two years before losing to Curbelo two years ago.

The race is a nasty one with charges of corruption and bowing to special interests.

"And Garcia embarrasses us again with scandal after scandal after scandal," said Curbelo.

"Two-faced corporate lobbyist Carlos Curbelo lying to Floridians and risking our retirement," said Garcia.

A key difference between the two is the Affordable Care Act. Garcia supports it. As for Curbelo, a spokesman for him said he is in favor of repealing Obamacare if it can be replaced with a system that puts patients and doctors first. In the meantime, he is in favor of improving the existing law with reforms like changing the 30-hour work week rule.

Curbelo is more conservative than Garcia on abortion and gun control.

While debating at their alma mater Belen Jesuit Prep, they strongly differed on lifting the Cuban embargo.

"I follow this president's policy. I am a supporter because we had a policy in place for half a century and it failed," said Garcia.

"I do not support removing sanctions from this regime because it is an enemy of the United States," said Curbelo.

Curbelo has accused his opponent of committing absentee voter fraud and of putting up a straw candidate in a previous election.

"Now this is the greatest disrespect to voters cheating in an election and this has just been horrible for our community," said Curbelo.

"Look, the fact is, it's a lie and he's going to repeat this over and over because his record is atrocious," said Garcia.

In the presidential race, Garcia is a staunch Clinton supporter while Curbelo is supporting no one.

"These are the number one and number two most unpopular candidates in the history of this country so in this election, I've decided not to support either of these candidates," said Curbelo.

"Not only am I supporting Hillary Rodham Clinton, anyone who is not supporting her is supporting the alternative which I think is not right for America," said Garcia.

Click here to read more about Campaign 2016.

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