Politics

Florida Candidate Goes All-In on Impeachment Message

David Richardson hopes to stand out against Donna Shalala in 27th District primary

Florida state Rep. David Richardson is making impeaching the president a big focus of his message ahead of the Aug. 28 Democratic primary. (Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call file photo)

While national Democrats are urging candidates to steer clear of talking about impeaching President Donald Trump, Florida state Rep. David Richardson is going all-in on that very message ahead of the Democratic primary later this month in the open 27th District. 

In a new ad released Monday, Richardson touts his introduction of an impeachment resolution in the state Legislature and calls out his top Democratic opponent, Donna Shalala, for not talking about the issue. 

“There’s one word official Washington does not want you to hear,” Richardson says in the ad, standing in front of the Capitol. 

He then attempts to say the word “impeachment” three times but the word is bleeped and a black box appears over his mouth to create the effect that he’s being censored.  

Richardson, the first openly gay person elected to the Florida Legislature, is running in a five-way primary for the Democratic nomination in one of the party’s best pickup opportunities this cycle. Longtime Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is retiring.

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Richardson has been trying to claim the progressive mantle in this race, running on a “Medicare for All” platform since he announced his campaign over a year ago. He’s frequently attacked Shalala, who served as Health and Human Services secretary under former President Bill Clinton and only entered the already-crowded race in March

His campaign sees the impeachment message as a way to separate him from other Democratic candidates in his primary and across the country. It plans to run the ad on broadcast and cable stations in South Florida this week and to likely keep it on the air for the next few weeks until the Aug. 28 primary. 

“He’s not really afraid of the Democratic establishment in this race or of pissing off the DCCC,” campaign manager Sam Powers said Monday when asked about the strategy.

Shalala, who stepped down as president of the Clinton Foundation last year, has picked up national support. EMILY’s List backed her in May. (The pro-abortion rights group had originally backed former circuit court judge Mary Barzee Flores, but she switched to the 25th District after Shalala entered the race for the 27th.) 

Other candidates in the race have also joined in criticizing Shalala — whether for skipping a debate, her tenure as president of the University of Miami or contributions she’d previously made to Republican candidates. 

Richardson is not the only candidate trying to carve out a progressive path by using Shalala as a foil. For example, Matt Haggman, the former director of Miami’s Knight Foundation, released a video earlier this summer in which he said he’d work to shut down the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. 

“Donna Shalala, she’s had her chance. It’s time for a new day,” Haggman says in the 15-second spot

Shalala ended the second quarter with $1.1 million to Richardson’s $762,000. Both candidates had loaned their campaigns about $500,000 as of the end of the second quarter. Haggman raised less during the second quarter but still ended the period with $746,000 in the bank.

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