MIAMI – Donna Shalala won the contentious Democratic primary for U.S. House Florida District 27, Miami-Dade County Elections officials reported on Tuesday night.
With 31.90 percent of the vote, the best-known Democratic candidate beat out former Miami Beach Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez, former Miami Herald reporter Matt Haggman, former UM academic adviser Michael Hepburn and David Richardson.
Richardson, who is Florida's first openly gay state representative, followed Shalala closely with 27.46 percent of the vote.
"Thank you. Thousands of believers, volunteers and supporters have helped shape this campaign from day 1 -- building a vision that demands a brighter future for Florida and our country," Shalala tweeted as she celebrated in Miami's Little Havana. "Now it's time to come together and flip this seat in November."
The 77-year-old former president of the University of Miami and the University of Wisconsin was the candidate with the most name recognition. She also served as former President Bill Clinton's Health and Human Services Secretary for eight years.
Shalala will face off against Cuban-American journalist Maria Elena Salazar to replace the retiring Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a moderate Republican who held the seat for 28 years. The district covers the cities of Miami, Miami Beach and Coral Gables and parts of Miami-Dade County.
While Ros-Lehtinen said she was going to support Salazar's campaign, Richardson said he was going to be supporting Shalala.