CORRECTION: Due to a tabulation error in the CQMoneyline campaign finance database, to which CNN subscribes, the cash-on-hand figure for Democrat Joe Garcia was incorrectly reported as $1.2 million. The correct amount is $624,000. As such, Republican candidate David Rivera leads both the Republican and Democratic fields in fundraising and cash-on-hand, not Garcia. The article below has been updated to reflect this correction.
Editor's Note: In the final 100 days before Election Day, CNN has been profiling one race at random each day from among the nation's top 100 House races, which we've dubbed "The CNN 100." Today's featured district is:
Florida 25th (Open seat) – Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R) is running for a different U.S. House district
Primary: August 24, 2010
Location: South Florida
Days until Election Day: 98
Shortly after Republican Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart announced in February that he would not seek re-election in Florida's 21st district, his younger brother Mario - himself a member of the House from Florida's 25th district - announced that he would leave his current post and run for Lincoln's seat instead. The move makes sense for the younger Diaz-Balart: the 25th district is almost 34 times smaller geographically and has voted slightly more Republican than the 21st district in the last two presidential races. But it also gives Democrats a better shot at winning in the 25th.
The likely Democratic nominee is Joe Garcia, the former Miami-Dade County Democratic party chairman. Garcia ran a strong race against Diaz-Balart in 2008, holding him to 53 percent of the vote. He faces Luis Meurice, a local labor union official, in the Democratic primary. Garcia reported having $624,000 in the bank as of June 30. Meurice had only $37,000.
State Rep. David Rivera, who represents parts of the 25th district in the Florida legislature, is the leading candidate for the Republican nomination. Conservative activist Paul Crespo and attorney Marili Cancio are also running but so far have not been able to raise the funds needed to wage a serious campaign. They have a combined $86,000 in the bank, compared to $1.1 million for Rivera.
Florida's 25th district makes up most of the state's southern tip and stretches from the Gulf of Mexico on the West almost to the Atlantic Ocean on the East. It includes most of Collier, Monroe, and Miami-Dade Counties. Geographically, it is immense, but most of the land area is taken up by the Everglades and the population centers are on the eastern and western edges of the district. On the east, the 25th takes in the far-inland suburbs of Miami and stretches down to Homestead, now rebuilt after being devastated by Hurrican Andrew in 1992. Those areas are connected to communities on the Gulf Coast by the Tamiami Trail, with the sparsely-populated "sea of grass" in the middle. John McCain narrowly carried the district in 2008 with 50 percent of the vote, compared to 49 percent for Barack Obama. President Bush had a more comfortable lead over John Kerry in 2004, winning with 56 percent. Diaz-Balart's performance here in 2008 was the worst of his congressional career. He had won with 58 percent and 65 percent in 2006 and 2002, respectively, and ran unopposed in 2004.
Democrats have their best shot at a pick-up if Garcia wins the nomination, as expected, but he nonetheless would face an uphill battle against Rivera in what is still a Republican-friendly district.