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Challengers lining up to take on U.S. Rep. Curbelo

Challengers in the U.S. congressional race to represent South Florida's District 26 have started making their cases to Florida Keys voters.

Miami businesswoman Annette Taddeo, the only declared Democratic challenger to first-term Republican incumbent Republican Carlos Curbelo, joined Monroe County Democrats in Key West on Saturday to watch the party's presidential aspirants debate. House District 26 includes the Keys and part of Miami-Dade.

Andrew Korge, a Miami businessman, spent time in the Keys last week while "strongly considering" a run for the Democratic nomination.

"I'm worried that I'm not going to be able to give my two children a better South Florida than my parents and grandparents have me," said Korge, 34.

"I've been listening to voters and local leaders the last couple of weeks... I think people are sick of the old mentality and want things to be different in the next century," he said Tuesday. "I want to make an impact."

He cited education, affordable housing and failure to prepare for climate change and sea-level rise among his priorities.

He plans to return to speak with Monroe County Democratic leaders in January.

Korge had laid the groundwork for a Florida Senate campaign but a still-unsettled legal battle over redrawn Senate district boundaries "took my district away from me," he said.

Korge, who has a law degree and works in real estate, said his family has actively campaigned for Democrats including President John F. Kennedy and former Keys congressman Dante Fascell.

Taddeo, 48, founded a successful translation company and served as chairwoman of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party. Charlie Crist picked Taddeo to run as his lieutenant governor candidate during Crist's unsuccessful 2014 bid to unseat Gov. Rick Scott.

Taddeo lost races for congress in 2008 (against then-Keys Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen) and for a Miami-Dade County Commission seat in 2010, but is known for civic involvement and fundraising ability.

Taddeo has been garnering support for notable Democrats in Congress and in South Florida as "part of Taddeo's ongoing effort to fend off potential rivals Joe Garcia and Andrew Korge, who are considering jumping into the primary race for the 26th congressional district," The Miami Herald reported this week.

Garcia defeated Republican incumbent David Rivera in 2012 but lost his seat after one term to Curbelo in 2014. Garcia, now a vice president of a realty investment firm, has not publicly revealed whether he plans to run for Congress in 2016.

Curbelo has filed for re-election and has raised more than $1.2 million, according to the Federal Election Commission.

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