Florida pro-life candidate unseats former Clinton HHS secretary in House race
CNA Staff, Nov 6, 2020 / 04:00 pm MT (CNA).- House Republicans scored an upset victory this week in Florida’s Miami-Dade County, as a pro-life, Latino candidate unseated the Democratic incumbent and former HHS secretary who served in Bill Clinton’s administration.
Maria Salazar, a Cuban-American journalist endorsed by the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, has been declared the victor in Florida’s 27th congressional district race. As of Friday afternoon, she was leading Democratic Rep. Donna Shalala by more than 9,000 votes.
The Cook Political Report predicted Salazar’s race to be a “likely Democratic” victory. Cook rated the district D+5—or five percentage points more Democratic than the U.S. average district.
According to a candidate questionnaire circulated by the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops, Salazar said she opposed taxpayer funding of abortions; she gave no response on repealing the death penalty.
Salazar also supported limiting the rate on consumer credit loans to 36%, preserving the state option to expand Medicaid in the future, universal background checks for guns, a pathway to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants, and funding renewable energy.
Salazar’s victory follows a trend of mostly unexpected Republican success among Latino voters in the general election. President Donald Trump carried the state by more than 300,000 votes as of Friday afternoon. The neighboring 26th congressional district of Southwest Florida also flipped to Republican.
The 27th District includes Miami Beach, Little Havana, and other portions of Miami-Dade County, is more than 70% Hispanic, according to Ballotpedia.
In 2016, Hillary Clinton won Miami-Dade County by nearly 30 points. However, Democratic nominee and current leader in the presidential race Joe Biden was winning the county by only seven points as of Friday afternoon, according to AP.
Born in Miami’s Little Havana to Cuban emigrants, Salazar graduated from the University of Miami and received a master’s in public administration from Harvard University.
Her victory on Tuesday is one of several House districts that were flipped from Democratic to Republican by GOP women candidates. Republicans have flipped eight House seats so far, for a net gain of six, and women endorsed by the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List Candidate Fund won eight of those races.
In addition, the group says that 11 Republican pro-life incumbents won their races, and that the number of pro-life women in the House has more than doubled.
While Salazar’s website does not list abortion among her issues, she did oppose taxpayer funding of abortion in her questionnaire for the state’s Catholic bishops conference, and ran on “pro-life values” in 2018, according to the University of Miami student newspaper.
In 2018, Salazar lost to Shalala by more than 15,000 votes. Shalala served as the Secretary of Health and Human Services under President Bill Clinton.
In 1995 and 1996, Shalala had to take responsibility amid criticism that the Clinton administration’s pick for surgeon general, Dr. Henry Foster, had performed far more abortions than had initially been reported.
Shalala also defended the administration’s position in support of partial-birth abortion as “emergency medicine” and something that “ought to be there to save a woman’s health or to save her life.”
In Congress, she cosponsored legislation to roll back the Trump administration’s religious exemption granted to the Little Sisters of the Poor and others who opposed the HHS contraceptive mandate. She also supported legislation to thwart some state regulations of abortions, as well as to open up coverage of abortions in taxpayer-funded Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP programs.