Democrats Search for Candidates to Challenge Miami Republicans

Florida Senate Capitol


Just over 15 months from the 2022 midterms, Florida Democrats have yet to find candidates who could take back seats lost to Miami Republicans in 2020.

Former Congresswomen Donna Shalala and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, who represented Florida’s 26th and 27th congressional districts, lost their South Florida seats as a result of the big Republican turnout in Florida in 2020. Former President Donald J. Trump expanded on his 2016 election margin by winning Florida by over three percentage points.

As Florida Governor Ron DeSantis continues to position his administration as supporters of the Cuban people, who have recently taken to the streets against the communist regime, prospects of Democrats retaking the Republican-controlled districts would prove to be a likely expensive potentially fruitless effort.

“Without question it is definitely frustrating,” said Ben Pollara, a Miami-based Democratic consultant, to POLITICO. “These are going to be ultra-competitive seats that you will need to raise a lot of money for. I’ve been telling people to get in as soon as you can. I do think there is to some degree just a hangover after the f—ing shellacking we [Democrats] took here in 2020, and all the drama that came after the election.”

In the Florida Legislature, Florida Democrats also took a beating by losing five Florida House seats and forced a presumably “safe” Democratic senate seat into a recount. State Rep. Javier Fernandez called it a “total systemic failure” on Twitter.

“Total systemic failure,” Fernandez wrote. “Party, caucuses, affiliated & independent groups.  People have spoken & clearly said they don’t want what we are offering.  Unforgivable part is that no one saw this coming.  We got beat & bad. We need to own it so we can move on & rebuild.”

Florida Democrats have struggled for years to determine how they want to be perceived. In gubernatorial elections, they have run a candidate who was received as more of a moderate, Alex Sink, and they have run a very liberal, progressive candidate, Andrew Gillum, the former mayor of Tallahassee.

Both elections saw Republicans retain control of the Governor’s Mansion.

Neither Shalala or Mucarsel-Powell have ruled out running against the current Republicans who beat them in 2020, but Democrats are being strategic knowing Republicans across the country will be looking to retake the U.S. Senate and House, especially after congressional redistricting.

“I have been seeing them start to get organized, especially because we know they have to win at least one of those seats to keep the House,” Mucarsel-Powell said. “They want to make sure they do not make the mistakes they have in the past.”

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Grant Holcomb is a reporter at the Florida Capital Star and the Star News Network. Follow Grant on Twitter and direct message tips.
Photo “Florida Senate Capitol” by Michael Rivera CC BY-SA 3.0.


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