Democratic Candidate Donna Shalala Was Supposed To Win Easily. Now She’s In Trouble

Democratic Candidate Donna Shalala Was Supposed To Win Easily. Now She’s In Trouble

Democratic congressional candidate Donna Shalala is struggling to keep up with her Trump-supporting Republican rival in a district that overwhelmingly favored Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.

The 77-year-old Shalala, who  served as Department of Health and Human Services secretary for the Clinton administration, was supposed to easily snag a win in Florida’s 27th Congressional District and become the “second-oldest House freshman in history,” but recent polls indicate she’s neck and neck with her Republican opponent, Maria Elvira Salazar.

In November 2016, voters in the Miami-based 27th District cast a ballot in favor of Clinton by a margin of nearly 20 points. So when Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen announced she wouldn’t seek re-election, Democrats considered the Miami-based 27th District to be “their easiest pickup of the cycle” — that is, until last week.

In an analysis for The Cook Political Report, David Wasserman indicated Florida’s 27th went from Democratic-leaning to a toss up after two GOP-sponsored polls indicated Salazar is in the lead. Politico reports that internal polls from both campaigns show the Spanish-speaking Republican either leads or is just barely behind Shalala.

Salazar leads the former Clinton Foundation head by 7 percentage points in a poll conducted for the Republican’s campaign that was completed Thursday. In a poll from Shalala’s campaign, completed Sept. 1, the Democrat leads Salazar by 4 percentage points.

Wasserman writes that Shalala’s inability to speak Spanish in a district that’s 76-percent Latino is hurting her, especially because she’s paired against Salazar, a former news anchor for the Spanish-language news channel Univision/Telemundo.

“Donna needs to rescue this campaign. And now she needs to do it in two languages,” Spanish and English, Grant Stern, a local Democratic Party leader, told Politico.

Bre Payton was a staff writer at The Federalist.
Photo screengrab/CBS Miami
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