National Hispanic Democratic group launches first 2022 attack against Carlos Gimenez

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U.S. Rep. Carlos Gimenez doesn’t have a 2022 opponent yet, but national Democrats are beginning to attack the first-term Miami Republican for his votes in January to overturn election results in two states hours after pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol.

Bold PAC, the political arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, released a digital ad in English and Spanish on Tuesday attacking Gimenez for his votes on Jan. 6 and 7 to decertify electors in Arizona and Pennsylvania.

“When an extremist mob attacked the Capitol, Congressman Carlos Gimenez was forced to hide,” the ad says, juxtaposing footage of police officers fighting with the crowd. “But hours later, with blood still on the floors of the Capitol, he voted with Trump and helped spread the same lies that left a police officer dead and many others injured.”

The ad, which is part of a modest five-figure digital investment from Bold PAC, is a sign that Democrats will work to ensure that former President Donald Trump’s continued, false attacks on the validity of the 2020 election will be a campaign issue for Republicans like Gimenez who represent competitive districts.

“What I’ve seen since Gimenez got here is he plays both sides of the aisle and molds himself as a conservative but also swings himself as a moderate,” said Bold PAC chairman and Arizona Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego. “If you see how he voted in particular in terms of overturning the election, that’s him trying to have it both ways.”

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Gimenez’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Gallego said Bold PAC, which has spent money in past South Florida elections to help Hispanic Democrats like former Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, is making “misinformation” a large part of its 2022 efforts in majority Hispanic districts like those represented by Gimenez and Miami Republican Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar. Gimenez and Salazar defeated incumbents Mucarsel-Powell and Donna Shalala, respectively, during the 2020 election.

Gallegeo said Spanish-language radio shows and YouTube channels popular with conservatives in South Florida frequently spread falsehoods or misinformation, and politicians like Gimenez and Salazar give legitimacy to them when they appear on their programs.

Bold PAC does not represent Hispanic Republicans in Congress, such as Gimenez, who is Cuban American. The group only counts Democrats among its membership. Former Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo tried and failed to join the group in 2017.

Defeating Gimenez in 2022, a midterm election when the party out of power typically makes gains, will be tough. Unlike many first-year members of Congress, Gimenez has high name recognition from his tenure as Miami-Dade County mayor and he has yet to lose an election during his 17-year career in elected office.

Gimenez timed his 2020 congressional run with a Trump endorsement, and didn’t join the minority of Republicans who publicly denounced Trump’s conduct during and after Jan. 6. Gimenez condemned the rioters, but voted to challenge the election results in two states and also voted not to impeach the former president on a charge of inciting the riot.

Gimenez said in January that he voted to sustain objections to the results of the presidential election in Pennsylvania and Arizona due to changes in election procedures made without the approval of their legislatures.

“Though I acknowledge my objections to these particular slates of electors would never have changed the outcome of the election,” Gimenez said in a statement, “it is my duty as a member of Congress to exercise congressional oversight powers in order to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

In recent statements, Trump has continued to call the 2020 election fraudulent, prompting House Republican conference chair Liz Cheney, who voted to impeach Trump on a charge of inciting the riot, to speak out. Cheney is likely to lose her leadership position this week after calling out Trump’s continued lies, with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy saying her statements as a member of leadership create a distraction as they attempt to retake the House in 2022.

Republicans must keep members like Gimenez and Salazar in the fold if they want to flip the House. Both benefited, in part, from Trump’s stronger-than-expected showing in Miami-Dade County during the 2020 election. Salazar was recovering from COVID-19 at the time of the riot and was not sworn in to vote on certifying the 2020 election.

Gimenez, a longtime firefighter and two-term Miami-Dade County mayor, said during his congressional campaign that his time in local government would help him bridge partisan divides in Washington. On certain issues, like voting to remove Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene from her committee assignments for her incendiary rhetoric and expanding background checks for most gun purchases, Gimenez has broken with the majority of his party to vote with Democrats.

But Gallego said Gimenez’s vote to sustain 2020 election objections after a deadly riot will be a major issue for Democrats during the 2022 cycle.

“This type of action is what the Maduros of the world do, what the Castros of the world do. We need to make sure people remember that,” said Gallego, referring to Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro and former Cuba leader Fidel Castro. “Right now, we are focused on accountability and as much as [Republicans] want to move on we cannot let them move on.”

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