Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo lost his seat to a Democratic challenger in the midterm elections, but he still has a vision for the GOP – and it doesn’t include what he calls “Trumpism.”
Curbelo, the 38-year-old who has represented Florida’s 26th congressional district since 2015, was defeated by Debbie Mucarsel-Powell in November. He was one of many Republican political casualties in the Democratic takeover of the House.
Curbelo was also one of a few Republican lawmakers whom President Trump criticized after they lost their elections for distancing themselves from him during their campaigns. He said the candidates who decided to “stay away” from him “did very poorly.”
“I don’t know whether I should be happy or sad, but I feel just fine about it,” Trump said, before specifically naming Curbelo.
In an interview with the Miami Herald, Curbelo wouldn’t speculate if Trump – whom he called a “media hog” – should lose re-election in 2020. But he did have some criticism for what he said has been Trump's impact on the Republican Party.
“This party has to understand that if we’re going to have a small government, free enterprise party in America, that Trumpism isn’t the future for such a party,” Curbelo told the newspaper. “Everyone has to understand that the post-Trump chapter has to start being written now. No matter how the White House or anyone else wants to frame it since Donald Trump has dominated Republican politics, House Republicans have lost 47 seats.”
Republican Utah Rep. Mia Love also lost her congressional seat and was called out by Trump in the same speech. She, too, criticized Trump when she conceded, saying he has “no real relationships, just convenient transactions.”
She said she was initially surprised when the president “took a jab at me,” but later wondered, “What did he have to gain by saying such a thing about a fellow Republican?”
“This gave me a clear vision of his world as it is: no relationships, just convenient transactions,” Love said. “That is an insufficient way to implement sincere service and policy.”
As for why he lost the race, Curbelo noted his campaign was outspent by Democrats, who funded a “barrage of ads and negative attacks.” Aside from attack ads, Curbelo also derided the negativity in “the national narrative.”
“The national narrative the last few weeks was just very negative in terms of the immigration issue, the talk about birthright citizenship, the whole caravan circus,” he said. “With everything just being so nationalized, this idea that all politics is local is increasingly true. I was able to preserve my own brand and people were aware of it, just not enough people, especially in the face of a spending gap.”
Curbelo told the Miami Herald he is proudest of the work he did on immigration as a lawmaker and plans to do more work on the issue, as well as the environment, post-Congress.