MIAMI – Two Cuban-American Republicans will be walking into the U.S. House next year after unseating two Democratic incumbents who outspent them during their campaigns. Both races were close.
Kathryn A. DePalo-Gould, a political science professor at Florida International University, said it’s not surprising this happened as Miami-Dade County played a key role in President Donald Trump’s victory in Florida. The swing state represents 29 electoral college votes. Trump needs 270 to win in a tight race against former vice president Joe Biden.
“I think it was a real repudiation of Democrats and that progressive wing and to see these kinds of numbers that Trump has won and to see the flipping of these tw congressional seats is a pretty powerful message to be sending,” DePalo-Gould said.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez is preparing to represent Florida’s 26th congressional district after defeating Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell. Maria Elvira Salazar, a former Spanish-language journalist, is getting ready to represent Florida’s 27th congressional district after slightly outpacing Rep. Donna Shalala.
“I think this was actually a surprise,” DePalo-Gould said.
Gimenez will be representing about 780,951 residents. District 26 includes Monroe County and a portion of south Miami-Dade. The area includes three national parks: The Everglades, Biscayne, and the Dry Tortugas. About 151,610 voters chose Gimenez, who secured about 51.3% of the votes. Mucarsel-Powell had about 48.7% of the votes with 143,936 supporters.
Salazar will be representing about 750,650 residents. District 27 includes an area of Miami-Dade that includes the cities of Miami, Miami Beach, South Miami, West Miami, Coral Gables, and North Bay Village. Salazar won 51.31% of the votes with 175,984 supporters. Shalala fell behind with 48.56% of the vote and 166,568 supporters
District 27′s area also includes the town of Cutler Bay and the villages of Palmetto Bay, Pinecrest, and Key Biscayne. It also covers the areas of Fisher Island, Kendall, Westchester, Coral Terrace, Glenvar Heights, Olympia Heights, Richmond Heights, Sunset, The Crossings, Three Lakes, and Westwood Lakes.
Shalala’s predecessor, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, represented the district until she announced she was not going to be running for reelection in 2018. Miami-Dade County’s Supervisor of Elections has yet to announce the official results since voters overseas have until Nov. 13 to send their ballots.
Both districts were among the top three Florida congressional races that raised the most funds. The Federal Election Commission reported District 26 candidates raised about $8 million and District 27 candidates raised about $6.5 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.