Carlos Gimenez in Great Shape to Win a Second Term Representing South Florida in Congress

Democrats had hoped to make U.S. Rep. Carlos Gimenez, R-Fla., a top target this election cycle but he looks like a solid favorite to win a second term.

After two decades in city and local politics, serving as Miami’s city manager, sitting on the Miami-Dade County Board of Commissioners and as Miami-Dade County’s mayor for a decade, Gimenez defeated U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, D-Fla., in one of the most closely watched congressional races of the 2020 election.

With the latest round of redistricting completed, on paper, the district, which includes parts of Miami Dade and Monroe-County, looks competitive. The party registrations are almost equally divided with 35 percent of voters here outside the major parties, 33 percent being Republicans and 32 percent Democrats. But independents here can go the GOP’s way. Donald Trump led Joe Biden in this area back in 2020, taking 52.8 percent while the Democrat pulled 46.5 percent here.

Generally seen as more of a centrist Republican, Gimenez had no problem beating back two challengers in the Republican primary back in August, running off with 73.4 percent of the vote against them. Wrapping up his first term in Congress, Gimenez has made his mark on Capitol Hill, including leading Republicans on the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee’s Transportation and Maritime Security Subcommittee. He also sits on the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure and the Science, Space and Technology Committees. During his short time on Capitol Hill, he has shown a knack for working with fellow South Florida Republicans U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and U.S. Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Maria Elvira Salazar on a host of fronts, including international issues. Gimenez also helps lead the Disaster Preparedness and Recovery Caucus though, as he is now 68 at the end of his first term, it’s difficult seeing him advance too high up the congressional ladder.

Facing Gimenez is former state Rep. Robert Asencio who won the Democratic primary in August. Ascencio edged former U.S. Rep. David Rivera, R-Fla., who was looking to return to the Florida House. Despite a host of campaign scandals from his previous bids, Rivera kept it close, losing by less than 60 votes. It came as no surprise that Ascencio was a top target for Florida Republicans in 2018. He lost his seat to Republican Anthony Rodriguez though it was a close contest.

With Mucarsel-Powell opting out of a rematch, Ascencio defeated Juan Paredes in the primary back in August, taking 69.7 percent. But Democrats seem more focused on taking down Salazar and most of the experts have given Ascencio little chance to defeat Salazar in November.

To be sure, the district can be competitive with the right Democrat and it will be a battleground again if Gimenez leaves any time soon. But this year, it doesn’t look that close and Gimenez should be headed for a second term in Congress after the smoke clears next week.

Kevin Derby wrote this analysis. He can be reached at kevin.derby@floridadaily.com

For more articles on Florida politics and government, visit our Florida politics section. Recent coverage includes 2022 Midterm Election news, Ron DeSantis vs. Charlie Crist, Marco Rubio vs. Val Demings and more.

Kevin Derby
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