Donna Shalala and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell could run in Florida 27

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Left to right: Miami-Dade mayoral candidate Daniella Levine Cava, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, (FL-26), Donna Shalala, (FL-27) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, (FL-23), attend a drive by Barack Obama- in rally in support of Joe Biden near Florida International University in Miami, Florida on Monday, November 2, 2020.

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The upcoming Congressional constituency redistribution and the undefined ambitions of two former incumbents have set the pursuit for Florida’s two most competitive seats in the United States House as Democrats scramble behind the scenes to potentially face off against Republican representatives. the United States. María Elvira Salazar and Carlos Gimenez.

Former US Reps Donna Shalala and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell have yet to decide on their plans for 2022, although Shalala leans towards a third consecutive round against Salazar next year. A Mucarsel-Powell rematch with Gimenez – or perhaps a primary clash with Shalala – could also be in the works.

“I’m evaluating what is the best way for me to make a positive impact for people living in the state of Florida and at this point I haven’t made a decision,” Mucarsel-Powell said.

A recent poll funded by an anonymous Democratic group tested the prospect of a four-way primary between Shalala, Mucarsel-Powell, Miami Beach commissioner David Richardson and first candidate Janelle Perez, who officially announced a race.

The poll, conducted by text and phone August 20-22 by Public Policy Polling, polled 593 likely Democratic primary voters in English and Spanish in Florida’s 27th Congressional District, which includes Miami Beach, most of Miami and the southern coastal neighborhoods of Miami-Dade. . He showed Shalala with an initial eight percentage point lead over Mucarsel-Powell, from 28% to 20%, in a hypothetical primary, with Richardson and Perez in the single-digit polls.

The poll then tested positive and negative messages for each candidate, and Shalala remained the favorite after the message test, although Richardson came in second after 31% of likely voters backed Shalala and 22% of likely voters. supported Richardson. Mucarsel-Powell’s support fell to 16% as Perez continued to probe single digits. A total of 26% of the likely voters remained undecided in the hypothetical match-up, which had a 4.1% margin of error.

But Richardson, who lost to Shalala in the 2018 Democratic primary, told the Miami Herald on Friday that he no longer plans to run in 2022. He had previously weighed a bid when Salazar voted against the law on the equality, a bill that would prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation by amending the Civil Rights Act.

“I was reviewing it several months ago, but I pretty much decided I wasn’t going to show up because there is so much uncertainty about the redistribution,” said Richardson, a former rep for the state that feared its Miami Beach voter base would end up in a nearby neighborhood instead of Salazar. “One thing I learned in this process is never say never, but I can tell I don’t intend to run.”

With Richardson absent, Mucarsel-Powell and Shalala are the two jokers. Both candidates lost in 2020, with Shalala losing in particular a stinging loss for Democrats in a district President Joe Biden won by three percentage points in 2020.

Sources also told the Miami Herald that Shalala had told other potential contestants that it would take $ 5 million to host a competitive race in 2022, a sum that would far exceed the $ 3.9 million she raised in the 2020 election and the $ 4.4 million it raised in 2018.

“Miami-Dade voters continue to appreciate Donna Shalala’s tireless service to our community and to our country,” said Shalala’s former deputy chief of staff Raul Martinez. “The daily appeals for Shalala to be a voice again in Washington are an unfortunate reminder that our community currently lacks strong, stable and rational leadership in Congress.”

Mucarsel-Powell said she was unaware of the poll but has not decided on her plans for 2022.

Michael Hernandez, a political analyst for Telemundo 51 and Democratic strategist who previously worked for Shalala and Mucarsel-Powell, said he hoped Shalala and Mucarsel-Powell did not run against each other in a Democratic primary.

“If the district looks a lot like what it did in 2018 and 2020, I think it’s Shalala’s biggest loss,” Hernandez said of the state’s 27th district. “What I think would be disastrous is if Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and Shalala prevailed on each other. I think the best bet for Democrats to reclaim those two seats would be to have a primary where it is. is less combative and where candidates can focus more on beating incumbent Republicans. ”

Recruiting viable candidates to run in both constituencies is important for Democrats, who hold only one eight-seat majority in the US House of Representatives. Prior to a deadly 2020 election that saw Miami Democrats suffer massive losses, Florida’s 26th and 27th Districts were considered two of the top performing swing districts in the whole country for Democrats.

While the elections are over a year away, Democrats, for now, are poorly represented in the two districts. The only Democrat campaigning against Gimenez is Juan Parades, a first-time candidate running on a left-wing platform to promote Medicare for All.

Perez, who never ran for office, admitted that she started the race in a different place than any former congressman.

“Something happening three weeks after our launch isn’t going to put me off,” Perez said of the poll results. “It doesn’t surprise me that a lot of people don’t know who I am, don’t know my message. I definitely intend to continue to promote myself.

Perez also commented at a recent virtual event that she “desperately needs to avoid a primary” and that she needs to “prove herself” to Shalala and Mucarsel-Powell. These comments led to mockery of the Republican Congressional National Committee, which said Perez was “not ready for the big leagues” and that “Democrats are rightly terrified of their chances in South Florida.” .

Any contested primary at Salazar’s headquarters, with a small bench of Democratic candidates who can run for Congress, is likely a godsend for Gimenez. His seat is considered more difficult for a Democrat to overthrow than Salazar’s after Trump defeated Biden by more than five percentage points in Florida’s 26th Congressional District, which includes most of western Miami-Dade County. and the Florida Keys.

“At this point in the cycle, Mayor Gimenez is in a very good position,” Hernandez said. “That doesn’t mean he’ll be in the same position once the lines are redrawn, but he’s in a good position right now.”

Hernandez said any potential candidate for 2022 should make up their minds before Thanksgiving, even if they wait until early 2022 to officially announce. Otherwise, it’s too hard to catch up with fundraising as Gimenez and Salazar continue to fundraise.

“You don’t have to announce it, but you probably need to let all of your donors and party leaders in Washington know that you are and that you will have an official launch after the holidays,” Hernandez said.

Mucarsel-Powell, who lost to Gimenez in 2020 by three percentage points, said “the right candidate” can beat him in 2022 but is well known after being mayor of Miami-Dade from 2011-2020.

The districts of Gimenez and Mucarsel-Powell are viable pickup opportunities for Democrats in a year of midterm elections where House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will attempt to challenge recent history and retain their slim majority in the House.

“These two seats could be the difference between President Kevin McCarthy and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy,” Hernandez said.

Alex Daugherty is the Washington correspondent for the Miami Herald, which covers South Florida from the nation’s capital. Previously, he worked as a Washington correspondent for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and for the Herald covering politics in Miami.


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