Democrat Annette Taddeo-Goldstein this week accused Miami state Rep. Luis Garcia of suggesting she had endorsed him in his bid for Congress.
Garcia says it's a misunderstanding. But Taddeo-Goldstein issued an apology to donors in an e-mail Thursday after friends and supporters told her Garcia was dropping her name in his fundraising bid.
“In some of these emails, voicemail messages and phone conversations it has been communicated that it was I who suggested that Mr. Garcia reach out to you and some of you have even been told that I have ‘endorsed’ Mr. Garcia — both of those were news to me,” she wrote.
The stinging e-mail quickly made the rounds to Democratic insiders who privately questioned the state of Garcia's campaign against U.S. Rep. David Rivera, the Republican incumbent.
UPDATE: Garcia said Friday he did not tell donors he had Taddeo-Goldstein's backing. "I never claimed that she had endorsed me," he said. "Never, ever, ever." He also said he has not made many calls because he's been busy in the annual lawmaking session in Tallahassee, and noted that anyone he has called has been because they have donated to past campaigns. Donors are public record, he noted.
Garcia’s spokesman, Christian Ulvert, called the sloppy incident a “misunderstanding.” Garcia apologized to Taddeo-Goldstein, said Ulvert, who said Democrats should be focusing on big issues in the district -- such as creating jobs -- rather than on petty snafus.
“She was very receptive to Luis’s campaign,” Ulvert said of Taddeo-Goldstein, acknowledging she has not endorsed Garcia, who represents a Miami-based district in the Florida House. Of the e-mail, which Taddeo-Goldstein told the campaign about in advance, Ulvert added: “I understand why she did it.”
Taddeo-Goldstein said she spoke to Garcia after sending the e-mail, and he denied telling donors she had backed him.
“I said, ‘OK, I have to take all these people’s word,’” she told The Miami Herald. “When it’s in writing, it’s sort of hard to deny it ... It was not a comfortable e-mail to send, and I tried to avoid it.”
Taddeo-Goldstein, a Colombian-American from Pinecrest, challenged U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in 2008 and vied for a Miami-Dade County Commission seat in 2010, losing in the primary. She characterized her donors as close friends and people she knows professionally who don’t habitually contribute to political campaigns and were upset that they were being contacted by another candidate.
She added that Garcia has never asked her for an endorsement. In her e-mail, she wrote that Garcia “has many endearing qualities” — but also noted that she has held a fundraiser and backed a candidate in another race, West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel, who is running for Broward/Palm Beach congressional district.
“I of all people know how important it is to help and support good candidates,” wrote Taddeo-Goldstein, who sits on the board of the national, non-partisan Women’s Campaign Fund to elect more women into public office.
Garcia has posted lackluster fundraising totals since launching his campaign last summer against Rivera, who has been under a cloud of legal trouble since taking office and has also been slow to raise money. Garcia has outpaced Rivera, but with at least one of the investigations against the congressman apparently stalled, Rivera, a once-prolific fundraiser, may be able to step up his efforts.
In the last quarter of 2012, Garcia raised $59,518, compared to Rivera’s $42,100, according to the latest campaign finance reports. Garcia has $61,594 in cash on hand, and Rivera has just $92,832 — though his campaign remains $154,080 in the hole from the 2010 election.
National Democrats, however, did not include Garcia in its most recent list of targeted congressional districts, though the head of the committee charged with electing Democrats to the House of Representatives has said the party wants to win the seat.
--PATRICIA MAZZEI AND ERIKA BOLSTAD