It’s turned into a battle over who’s a bigger socialist.
In Florida’s 27th congressional district, Republican Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar is battling to hold off her Democratic challenger Annette Taddeo.
Salazar, who is seeking a second term, is a 60-year-old Miami native who lives in Coral Gables. She studied at the University of Miami and Harvard University, afterward working as a journalist and news anchor.
Taddeo is a 55-year-old Colombian who is a member of the Florida Senate for the 40th district, a seat she won in 2017. If elected, she would be the first Hispanic Jew in Congress.
Florida’s 27th Congressional District extends from Lakes by the Bay to North Beach, including areas like Little Havana, Kendall, Miami Beach, and Key Biscayne. With a population of 727,882, according to the Census Reporter, the majority of residents are Hispanic (70%), and 2% identify as Asian, 4% as Black, and 21% as White.
About 19% of the population is under18 years of age, 63% are between the ages of 18 and 64, and 19% are 65 or older. In the district, 86.8% of the population graduated high school and 45.9% have a bachelor’s degree or higher.
The district is closely divided politically. The District Demographic Analysis done by Miami-Dade County shows that about 32.6% of the voters in this district are registered Democrats, 34% are Republicans, and 32% do not have a party affiliation.
In past races, the district has elected both Democrats and Republicans, often in close contests. In 2016, Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen was elected, but two years later after Ros-Lehtinen retired, Democrat Donna Shalala prevailed over Salazar. The Republican candidate, however, came back in 2020 and won against Shalala.
Sean Foreman, a political science professor at Barry University who did a case study on Salazar’s win in 2020, told the Daily Business Review that Taddeo’s late entrance into the contest – she dropped out of the governor’s race and announced her challenge to Salazar on June 6th, two weeks before the primary deadlines – put the Democrats at a disadvantage.
“They didn’t put the attention into this race initially and now it’s too late to salvage it,” Foreman said.
The campaigns have attacked each other over supporting socialism and freedom.
In mailings on behalf of Taddeo, the state Democratic Party has painted Salazar as a socialist. The ads call Salazar a Fidel Castro and Nicolas Maduro sympathizer.
In her own ads, Taddeo explains her personal experience “escaping Marxist Terrorists founded by the Cuban Regime in Colombia” and vows to protect the voters’ freedom.
Taddeo’s attacks on Salazar as a socialist sympathizer is a role reversal of a tactic that Republicans have used effectively against Democrats on an issue that resonates with Hispanic voters.
For her part, Salazar and her allies have used a similar approach appealing to the protection of the American dream.
In one ad, she says she will only allow America to be lost to socialism “over my dead body.”
The candidates did not debate. Jackie Nespral of NBC 6 interviewed them separately in September.
When asked why she should be re-elected, Salazar said she’s the one who knows her district best.
“I’m not a socialist because I am pro-American, and I vote for whatever is good for my district,” said Salazar. “I know what my district needs.”
She added, “We know whether you’re a Nicaraguan or Guatemalan or Venezuelan or Cuban or Dominican, we do know that socialism doesn’t work.”
Taddeo said if elected she hopes to work across the aisle as she has done in the Florida State Senate.
“I gained the respect not just of my colleagues on the Democratic side but of my colleagues on the Republican side,” said Taddeo. “What we need is uniters in Congress. We have a very divided country with a lot of extremes and unfortunately, the ‘MAGA’ Republicans like my opponent are actually just trying to satisfy a base that is extreme.”
Both candidates have extensive social media presence, but Taddeo covers more ground by including TikTok and therefore exposing her campaign to a younger audience with trending audios.
According to Open Secrets, Salazar has raised $4.8 million while Taddeo has raked in $1.9 million.
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