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Carlos Curbelo, Republican leader on climate, loses tight Florida race

Chart: Axios Visuals

Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida lost re-election Tuesday to his Democrat challenger, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell.

Why it matters: Curbelo, a two-term Republican, was a top target for the Democrats from the get-go and considered a bellwether of a blue wave. The outcome also represents a loss for the Climate Solutions Caucus, a bipartisan House caucus Curbelo founded in 2016.

The big picture: The 38-year-old Curbelo, first elected to Congress in 2014, embodies the moderate GOP mold considered key to Republicans keeping control of the House. He represents the tip of Florida, a swing district whose residents regularly experience rising sea levels, one of the clearest and most present impacts of climate change.

  • Climate change is a top priority for Curbelo, who has regularly criticized President Trump on several issues.
  • Curbelo introduced legislation in July that taxes carbon emissions, the first substantive climate legislation by a Republican in a decade.

In an interview this summer, Curbelo brushed off prospects of losing.

“I don’t worry about those kinds of things. I didn’t go to college to serve in Congress. I’m going to be as effective as possible while I’m here. The day I’m not here, I’ll be perfectly fine.”
— GOP Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida

What’s next: The prospect of bipartisan climate policy, something many independent experts say is necessary to make substantive progress on the issue, drops significantly with Curbelo exiting Congress.

Go deeper: Climate change is finally getting political cred with Republicans

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