Carlos Curbelo and the politics of moderation

Good news for Democrats: Carlos Curbelo is the most vulnerable House Republican ahead of the 2018 elections because his district is so damn Democratic, according to the Cook Political Report:

Florida’s 26th district, which extends from Westchester to Key West, performed an average of 6 percentage points more Democratic than the nation did as a whole between the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections, Cook Report editor David Wasserman found in his report, released Friday.

“In the modern era, it takes considerable personal appeal to win a House election in a district that fundamentally favors the opposite party,” Wasserman wrote. “There are several members on both sides who have successfully run ‘against the grain.’ However, these members are also likeliest to be among the top targets for the opposite party in 2018 and beyond.”

Curbelo, who happens to be my congressman, opposed Trump, believes climate change will eventually produce swimming pools in guest bathrooms, and has said nothing derogatory about gays, would have been run of the mill in 1987 and even 1997, during which the political parties still coughed up moderate swing legislators. Now he’s an exception, ensured a safe seat if (a) no Democratic waves take out every vulnerable Republican in sixteen months; (b) his anti-Trump positions insulate him against DNC attempts to wrap the president around his neck; (c) young South Floridians stay home, as they are wont to do.

As a result, I doubt he’s as vulnerable as the redoubtable Cook people claim. National political reporters fail to grasp the perplexities of the Cuban-American vote. His colleague Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, with Curbelo still the only Republican member of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, also sits in what James Thurber called the catbird seat. Gerrymandering may have put more Democrats in their districts, but Ros-Lehtinen’s been doing a fan dance since she replaced Claude Pepper. So long as she growls at the Castro brothers and treats “Bibi” Netanyahu as if his office were in the West Wing lobbyists will keep the campaign dough coming and the purple-haired viejas will still vote for the woman with the transgender son.

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