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Republican congressman faces challenge from first-time politician

Mario Diaz-Balart, Alina Valdes have opposing views on Cuba, Obamacare

PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – Florida's 25th congressional district stretches from the suburbs of west Miami-Dade County along Alligator Alley and into Naples. Incumbent U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a Republican, is facing a challenge from a first-time politician.

Diaz-Balart has served in the Florida state House and Senate before becoming a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, where he has served on the House Appropriations Committee.

"While cutting taxes, I've also been known as the person who's gotten hundreds of millions of dollars for Everglades restoration [and for] transportation," he said.

Diaz-Balart has opposed the opening of relations with Cuba. He has also joined other Republicans in pledging to repeal and replace Obamacare.

"There's no doubt there's this incredible bickering and partisan infighting in Washington, D.C. But here's the thing: I'm actually known for getting things done," he said.

His opponent is a political newcomer named Alina Valdes.

Valdes has lived in South Florida for 16 years.

Born in Cuba and raised in New York, Valdes is a physician who said she volunteers at a homeless shelter.

"The first time I got a little bug in my head to try to do something was in 2011, when I saw how dysfunctional Congress was," she said.

Valdes believes the U.S. embargo on Cuba should be lifted, with conditions.

She also said she believes her experience as a doctor gives her better insight into the world of health care policy. Valdes told Local 10 News she believes Obamacare is flawed -- but that it is working.

"Replace with what? I still haven't heard a plan," she said. "If it's replace with what we had before, we're going to kick off 20-30 million people from insured rolls and they're going to be back with the same situation."