Leaked DCCC docs detail Fla. Dem candidates' weaknesses

Leaked DCCC docs detail Fla. Dem candidates' weaknesses

Leaked documents from House Democrats’ campaign arm following an email hack highlight the party's perceived weaknesses of several favored candidates in Florida House primaries. 

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) gave an overview of several House races as well as specific critiques of Democrats’ shortcomings in a handful of Florida districts, many of which are important for Democrats to win in their uphill battle to taking back the House majority. 

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The memos and reports are part of a cyberattack of several Democratic groups that has been attributed to Russia. A hacker who goes by the name Guccifer 2.0 has posted the latest batch of DCCC documents. 

An April memo discusses the heated Aug. 30 primary for freshman Rep. Carlos Curbelo’s (R) South Florida district. It’s a top target for Democrats this cycle and Curbelo has been a vocal critic of his party’s presidential nominee, Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpCoast Guard chief: 'Unacceptable' that service members must rely on food pantries, donations amid shutdown Dem lawmaker apologizes after saying it's never been legal in US to force people to work for free Grassley to hold drug pricing hearing MORE

Annette Taddeo, an unsuccessful nominee for lieutenant governor in 2014, was the only Democrat challenging Curbelo for awhile and is included in the DCCC’s “Red to Blue” program, which targets specific House districts it thinks the party can flip. 

But in February, former Rep. Joe GarciaJose (Joe) Antonio GarciaOvernight Defense: Biden honors McCain at Phoenix memorial service | US considers sending captured ISIS fighters to Gitmo and Iraq | Senators press Trump on ending Yemen civil war Biden pays tribute to McCain at emotional memorial service Mueller indictments: Congressional candidate asked Russian operatives for info on opponent MORE (D) decided to mount a comeback bid for his old seat. Garcia’s former campaign manager served in prison for fraud regarding online absentee-ballots. 

The memo says the DCCC stands wholeheartedly behind Taddeo and argues that she's the best candidate to knock off Curbelo and keep the seat Democratic for the next few cycles. 

But while the group props up Taddeo, the memo noted that she's a weaker fundraiser and that Garcia complicates the primary because of his name recognition. The memo also notes that her three unsuccessful runs for office might portray her as an “incompetent candidate” and pointed out that many perceive her as a “wealthy elitist.” 

Guccifer 2.0 also leaked the Taddeo campaign’s 76-page research pamphlet that extensively ticks through Garcia’s weaknesses, accomplishments and record. 

Another Florida seat where Democrats hope to win is Rep. Dan Webster’s (R) seat. Webster decided to run in another congressional district after redistricting made his seat more Democratic. 

A March memo looked at the crowded Democratic primary. Former Orlando police chief Val Demings is in the “Red to Blue” program and a poll from the DCCC earlier this month has her ahead in the by 30 points

The leak includes a confidential report about one of Demings’s opponents, Bob Poe. The report characterizes him as “a good Democrat,” but says his tenure as state party chairman was a “disaster” and said he absorbed the majority of the blame when he oversaw two election cycles in Florida, in 2000 and 2002. 

The district currently represented by Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy, who is vacating his seat to run for Senate, is a slightly GOP-leaning district that Democrats need to defend this cycle.

An April memo details that Randy Perkins, who left college to support his family and later became a successful and wealthy businessman, “personifies the American Dream.”

But the DCCC, which added him to the “Red to Blue” program, pointed out that his vulnerabilities in the primary include donating $1.6 million to Republicans and that he registered as a Democrat just before seeking office. 

The memo outlines that his weaknesses in the general could center around his company, AshBritt Environmental, which is a disaster relief service. This includes Perkins being sued by contractors for not paying them and also an audit of the company that showed that it “cheated the school board in Broward County out of nearly $800,000.” Perkins denied overbilling or double billing for cleanup after Hurricane Wilma, according to The Broward-Palm Beach New Times in 2009.

The document also shows the weaknesses of another Democratic candidate, Jonathan Chane, outlining that he profited as a foreclosure attorney during the 2008 housing crisis in Florida and also defended a big tobacco company that was charged for lying about smoking hazards to families. 

While Rep. Alan GraysonAlan Mark GraysonFlorida's Darren Soto fends off Dem challenge from Alan Grayson Live results: Arizona and Florida hold primaries The Hill's Morning Report: Frustration mounts as Republicans blow up tax message MORE’s (D) seat is considered safe for Democrats, the open seat has drawn a crowded Democratic contest. Grayson is running against Murphy for the Senate. 

A backgrounder delving into former Grayson aide Susannah Randolph’s candidacy outlines that she’s registered as a lobbyist, defended one of Grayson’s past controversial remarks, and used inappropriate language about Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R). She also earned more than $200,000 as Grayson’s district director. 

While there’s no Democratic primary for this seat, one of the memos leaked in this batch also highlights the race for Republican Rep. John Mica’s seat, which has become more Democratic after it was redrawn. His district’s population is now almost 21 percent Latino. 

The DCCC has targeted this race, but the party initially had trouble fielding a strong candidate. At the time the memo was written, banker Bill Phillips was the only Democrat running, but he posted lackluster fundraising and the DCCC said it was looking for other options. Phillips dropped out in late April. 

An April memo shows that the party spoke with Randolph and Poe about changing congressional races and instead challenging Mica.

But in late June, former Defense Department analyst Stephanie Murphy (D) filed to run for the seat at the last minute and has been embraced by the DCCC in its “Red to Blue” program. 

The memo concludes that Mica has strong ties to the district he has served since 1993, but noted that he’s also a “poor fundraiser.” The DCCC conducted a poll in February showing Mica narrowly leading a generic Democrat by only 3 points. 

Last week, DCCC records were leaked to The Hill by Guccifer 2.0. These documents included sensitive personal information, including Social Security numbers of donors in addition to memos for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and President Obama to prepare for a fundraising events. 

These documents are only a small batch from the DCCC and the hacker said the bulk of them will be released on WikiLeaks.

DCCC spokeswoman Meredith Kelly emailed an identical response to the one after last week's leak. “As previously noted, the DCCC has been the target of a cybersecurity incident, and we are cooperating with federal law enforcement in their ongoing investigation. We are aware of reports that documents claimed to be from our network have been released and are investigating their authenticity."