CUTLER BAY, Fla. - Helping Democrats in their quest to control the House, former college administrator Debbie Mucarsel-Powell narrowly unseated Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo on Tuesday in Florida's 25th Congressional District.
Mucarsel-Powell beat Curbelo by 1 percentage point to take the district, which covers Monroe County and parts of southern Miami-Dade County. Curbelo, who has served in Congress since 2012, had been favored to win despite the district's voters favoring Hillary Clinton by more than 15 points in 2016. Mucarsel-Powell pulled ahead, however, with a small lead in some polls in the campaign's final weeks.
"Tonight is a night to be celebrated because we just didn't win the 26th Congressional District. We have taken a stand for all the working families of South Florida," Mucarsel-Powell told cheering supporters at a rally in Cutler Bay.
Curbelo sought to portray himself as a moderate who bucked his party on important issues such as immigration. Curbelo has been an outspoken advocate for undocumented people who came to the United States as children, also known as "Dreamers." Curbelo and fellow South Florida Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart were at the forefront of several unsuccessful efforts this year to give these people protections to legally live and work in the U.S.
In a barrage of campaign ads, Mucarsel-Powell and Democratic allies tied Curbelo to the policies of President Donald Trump, who is relatively unpopular in the heavily Hispanic district.
In his concession speech, Curbelo, known for reaching across the aisle, urged his supporters not to give up on bipartisanship and civility.
"Many of us came from families who lost their countries where politics became violent and ugly and nasty and that’s no way to settle differences in the greatest democracy in the world," Curbelo said. "So that is my hope for tonight -- that our country can really become a place where Americans can have a healthy dialogue. Sure, rancorous debates, but also compromise."
An immigrant from Ecuador, Mucarsel-Powell highlighted Curbelo's role in helping write the new tax cut legislation, which Mucarsel-Powell and other Democrats said overwhelmingly benefited the wealthy at the expense of the middle class. Mucarsel-Powell also played up Curbelo's repeated votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as "Obamacare."
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