Biden's struggles with Latinos in Florida dooms two House Democrats

Florida’s 26th and 27th congressional districts, both 70 per cent Hispanic, flip to Republicans

Griffin Connolly
Wednesday 04 November 2020 06:27 GMT
2020 election results

Two freshman Democratic congresswomen in Southern Florida have lost their re-election races, as the party’s presidential nominee Joe Biden struggled to capture support among Latino voters there.

Many Democratic observers, including members of Congress, have already begun blaming Mr Biden’s difficulties winning over Latinos for his downfall in the state — and the downfall of other Democrats down the ballot.

Congresswomen Donna Shalala of the Sunshine State’s 27th congressional district and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell of the 26th congressional district will be single-term House members, several news outlets have projected.

Former TV news anchor Maria Elvira Salazar, the Republican in the 27th district, defeated Ms Shalala 51.4-48.6 per cent in a rematch from the 2018 midterms. That’s a 9 percentage-point swing from when Ms Shalala won the 2018 battle by 6 percentage points.

And Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez bested Ms Mucarsel-Powell 51.8-48.2 per cent.

Both districts are more than 70 per cent Hispanic, with heavy Cuban immigrant populations.

Donald Trump has won Florida largely by winning over that contingent of voters, who appear to have responded to the president’s campaign warnings that Mr Biden and the Democrats are sliding towards “communism.”

During his victory speech on Tuesday, Mr Gimenez assailed Ms Mucarsel-Powell’s voting record, calling her “one of the most partisan members of Congress.”

“I want to be bipartisan. We need to work together. This country needs to work together because we have threats from outside and inside, and for us to keep fighting, it makes no sense whatsoever,” he said.

“I’m gonna roll up my sleeves, and I’m gonna work with our colleagues in Congress to bring solutions, to bring results to the people of Miami-Dade County and also the people of this country. The first thing we have to do is restore our economy, and I think we’re on our way to doing that,” Mr Gimenez said.

By midnight, Ms Mucarsel-Powell had not yet conceded her race.

“This election has seen historic levels of turnout in Florida and across the nation, and we are still waiting for all the votes to be counted,” Mucarsel-Powell said in a statement. “What we are seeing now is our democratic process at work. I look forward to a final result when the votes have been counted and everyone’s voice has been heard.”

Ms Salazar, like Mr Gimenez, promised to represent her district in a bipartisan manner.

“I vow that in Washington, I will represent the spirit that lives in this district, the ultimate melting pot, the city of Miami. To my constituents who did not vote for me, I will serve you as if you did, because I will work for what is right, not who was on my side,” she said.

The 27th District includes the Cuban enclave of “Little Havana.”

Ms Shalala, Ms Salazar’s opponent, has conceded.

Democrats’ failures with Latinos in Florida did not escape the notice of a certain outspoken Hispanic congresswoman from New York.

“We’ve been sounding the alarm about Dem vulnerabilities w/ Latinos for a long, long time,” Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.

“There is a strategy and a path, but the necessary effort simply hasn’t been put in,” she said.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in