Democrats Flip Two South Florida Congressional Seats on the Way to Taking the House

With Democrats projected to take control of the U.S. House from the GOP on Tuesday, they picked up two congressional seats in South Florida as they crafted their new majority.

With U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., retiring from Congress. former U.S. HHS Sec. Donna Shalala won the seat for Democrats, beating Republican Maria Elvira Salazar to claim the seat.

Florida Democratic Party Chair Terrie Rizzo weighed in after the smoke cleared in South Florida.

“Tonight, South Florida elected a proven leader and dedicated public servant in Congresswoman-elect Donna Shalala,” Rizzo said. “Throughout her career, Donna has been on the front lines fighting on the issues our communities care about, including health care, gun safety, and education. Donna has always delivered results, and that’s what she is sure to do in Congress. Congratulations to Congresswoman-elect Shalala on her victory!”

U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., was the only incumbent in the Florida House delegation to go on Tuesday night as he narrowly lost to Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell.

“Tonight’s election results mark a new chapter for the voters of Florida’s 26th Congressional District, and represent a clear victory for Florida’s working families,” Rizzo said.”Congresswoman-elect Debbie Mucarsel-Powell will be a fierce advocate for affordable healthcare, the environment, and gun safety measures that can keep our communities safe. From Westchester to Key West, voters can count on Congresswoman-elect Mucarsel-Powell to stand up for them.”

But Republicans kept other seats including in several races that were competitive as U.S. Reps. Brian Mast, Mario Diaz-Balart and Vern Buchanan beat back Democrat challengers.

“Brian Mast earned his reelection victory and the opportunity to serve again,” said Maddie Anderson, a spokeswoman for the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC). “He is a true patriot who puts service over himself in Congress. The NRCC is thrilled that Brian Mast will be returning to Congress.”

Republicans also kept control of three open seats as Mike Waltz kept the seat that had been held by former U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., state Rep. Ross Spano won the seat that had been held by retiring U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla., and state Sen. Greg Steube kept the seat held by retiring U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla., in the GOP fold.

The GOP had only one real opportunity to pick up a congressional seat in Florida but U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., defeated state Rep. Mike Miller.

All other incumbents in the Florida House delegation–Democrat and Republican alike–won by solid margins.


Kevin Derby can be reached at 

Kevin Derby
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