Democrat Donna Shalala’s victory in Florida’s 27th District is a relief for Democrats, who’d welcomed this seat as a prime pick-up opportunity when GOP Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen announced she wasn’t seeking re-election.
But Shalala had some stumbles during the general election campaign. For starters, she didn’t speak Spanish, a fact that was noticeable against GOP nominee Maria Elvira Salazar, a former TV anchor.
During the Democratic primary, she was criticized by members of her own party for skipping a debate.
More recently, the National Republican Congressional Committee suggested in a web video that her campaigning was decidedly not energetic. Instead of being “fired up,” the video suggested that Shalala was “ready to snooze.”
Republicans hoped that Salazar, the daughter of Cuban immigrants, could energize Latino voters in the district and beat Shalala, who served as the former Health and Human Services secretary during the Clinton administration. Unlike Shalala, Salazar speaks fluent Spanish in a majority-Latino district.
Salazar’s loss makes it likely Republicans are looking at many fewer women in their conference next year.
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