Partisan groups continue going negative in CD 26 contest

CLF ad Mucarsel-Powell
The hotly contested race is now seeing a flood of attack ads.

A new slate of negative ads is dropping in the race for Florida’s 26th Congressional District as opposing partisan groups look to push their candidate of choice.

The race features Democratic Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell defending her seat against Republican candidate Carlos Giménez, who currently serves as the Miami-Dade County Mayor.

On Tuesday, two groups released negative ads, with one ad each going after Giménez and Mucarsel-Powell. Wednesday morning, another pair of attack ads dropped as the race for one of the most competitive congressional seats in the state heats up.

The Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF) — a Super PAC aimed at electing Republicans to the U.S. House — announced a new ad Wednesday titled, “Warlord.”

The ad largely rehashes an attack pushed during Mucarsel-Powell’s 2018 congressional bid focusing on her husband, Robert. According to a Daily Beast report, Robert Powell worked as an attorney at several firms owned by a Ukrainian man named Ihor Kolomoisky.

“Embezzlement, bribery, murder,” the ad’s narrator ominously begins.

“Those are the charges against Ukrainian warlord Ihor Kolomoisky. But that didn’t stop Debbie Mucarsel-Powell’s family from cashing in. The Powells took in over $700,000 from the Ukrainian warlord’s firm, and Mucarsel-Powell received thousands more from Kolomoisky’s associates. Charges of criminal schemes, contract killings, a warlord with a private army. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell: dangerously connected.”

A 2010 court order cited by the CLF in ads that ran last cycle also says it appeared Powell “answers” to Kolomoisky. However, Powell told the Miami Herald, “I have never worked for, represented, answered to, or received any payment from Mr. Kolomoisky at any time.”

While residents backed Mucarsel-Powell in 2018 despite similar accusations, CLF Spokesman Will Reinert is pushing voters to revisit the claims.

“South Florida families work hard to make an honest living, but Debbie Mucarsel-Powell’s family did it the shady way, cashing in on their connections to a foreign warlord and his criminal enterprises,” Reinert said.

“If Congresswoman’s Mucarsel-Powell’s radical, left wing politics haven’t already turned off voters, her family’s dangerous connections will.”

Wednesday morning also saw a new video from the Florida Democratic Party (FDP) warning voters against selecting Giménez this fall.

The FDP video repackages comments from Commissioner Barbara Jordan earlier this year, when she ripped into the Mayor during a debate on a proposed Formula One race inside the county.

Jordan pushed back against a proposal to move the race — which could have significant noise concerns — inside her district at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.

“Mr. Mayor, throughout all of this process you have been my biggest disappointment, and I’ll tell you why,” Jordan said.

“You convinced me that you were the best thing since sliced bread for this community. Now today, I hear something totally different. You change when you need to change for the event that you need to change for, and you need to come with a warning label: buyer beware.”

Last week, the FDP also launched a digital ad highlighting Republican mayors criticizing Giménez over concerns the county was short-changing cities on federal relief money.

“First, it was Republican Mayors, now it’s County Commissioners who don’t trust Corrupt Carlos,” said FDP Spokeswoman Alexandra Caffrey.

“Commissioner Jordan is just the latest person who has worked with Corrupt Carlos to send a loud warning to Giménez and his backers: ‘buyer beware.’”

Election forecasters currently see the CD 26 contest as a toss-up. Mucarsel-Powell won the seat in 2018 by 2 percentage points. The district covers parts of Miami-Dade and Monroe counties.

Ryan Nicol

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to [email protected].


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