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Past campaign woes dog former Rep. Joe Garcia

Miami congressional candidate and former Rep. Joe Garcia can’t escape questions about his past campaign troubles. And his Democratic primary rival, Annette Taddeo, appears to be relishing the fight.

“People pay a huge price,” Garcia said in a Florida Keys forum Thursday, apparently referring to the jail time served by his former chief of staff. “Clearly, mistakes were made.”

Jeffrey Garcia, no relation, went to jail over submitting unlawful absentee-ballot requests in 2012. He also received probation after acknowledging he put up a ringer tea-party candidate in 2010.

Joe Garcia was never charged with any wrongdoing — and won’t be, since the statute of limitations has expired.

“We corrected those mistakes when we found them,” he said at the forum, according to video obtained by the Miami Herald. “We fired the people, and we moved forward.”

Taddeo reminded forumgoers that an email discovered by federal prosecutors in the 2010 case suggested Joe Garcia might have known about the ringer candidate.

“I have to tell you, I’m someone that actually supported Joe Garcia strongly, because I wanted to get rid of David Rivera,” Taddeo said, referring to the Republican ex-congressman Garcia ousted in 2012. Rivera is suspected of orchestrating a ringer candidate of his own that year.

“To find out that after he’s elected he had done the same thing two years prior!” Taddeo said of Garcia.

Attacking Garcia may be Taddeo’s only option, given she has been behind in polls. Her campaign has started mailing fliers to voters — including one going negative on her opponent.

Garcia, for his part, declared himself the winner of the forum in a statement Friday.

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