Democrats think they can win the seat in Congress being left by gubernatorial hopeful U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., and they are putting their hopes on a Clinton-era national security expert to get it done.

Nancy Soderberg says, despite the past failures of Democrats running in Congressional District 6 out of St. Augustine, she feels this time will be different despite a Republican lean there.

“It’s really the first time that we’ve had a candidate who has the district and the resources to win. I’ve been in this now for 14 months and working hard to make sure that we have the strongest grassroots effort, and you’re seeing that in the volunteers, the phone calls, knocking on doors. You can feel the people want a candidate with a message that I have. It’s the strongest campaign that’s ever been seen in this district,” Soderberg told Florida Daily.

Will it be a blue wave that carries her to victory in the district which includes parts of St. Johns, all of Flagler and most of Volusia County? Soderberg doesn’t necessarily see it that way.

“What I see is momentum across parties and across families trying to make sure we change the priorities of this Congress, which means making sure that we protect people with pre-existing conditions,” she said. “I know what it is like. I am diabetic, and I have been denied healthcare because I was told I had a pre-existing condition, and many people and many families face the same issue.”

As the director of the Public Service Leadership program at the University of North Florida (UNF), Soderberg said the lack of jobs and good options for medical insurance inspired her to try a run for Congress.

“I’m just really concerned that this next generation isn’t going to have the opportunities that I had growing up.  They don’t expect to have a secure retirement. They worry about their healthcare. They don’t ever expect to own a home because they are saddled by student debts,” she said.

The former number three at the National Security Council under President Bill Clinton called her top priority healthcare. She was not specific on whether Medicare should become a single payer healthcare system but did promise to try and reverse Republican changes to the Affordable Care Act.

“We need to make sure than healthcare is affordable,” Soderberg told Florida Daily. “It is not affordable and costs are going up. I want to go to Congress and make sure we fight to make sure that you can keep your kids on your healthcare, that you can protect your kids’ healthcare, that you can make sure that those with pre-existing conditions are covered, and that everyone is covered with an affordable rate. The Republicans are doing the opposite.”

She called President Donald Trump’s tax cuts a $1.9 billion hole that was blown in the budget. While, Soderberg would not directly answer the question of whether or not she would try to raise taxes to make up that deficit, and to provide affordable healthcare for every family, she did say she watched tax hikes work under Clinton.

“I worked in the last White House that left a balanced budget, and left a surplus. I’ve seen how you make those tough choices, and it takes common sense, compromise, and looking at the numbers, and making some tough decisions. That’s the kind of leader in Congress that I will be,” she said.

In a year that may be a referendum on the job Trump has done, Soderberg said she is willing and ready to work with the president, if it is the right issue.

“President Trump put forward an infrastructure bill which is thoroughly needed,” she noted.” If you drive up and down A1A, it takes years to get repaired after every hurricane. The bridges in the I-4 corridor. We need an infrastructure bill, and I would welcome the chance to work with the President on this. I’ll work with him where I think it is right for our district, and oppose him when it is wrong for our district.”

She’ll face Republican Michael Waltz, an Army reservist with the rank of lieutenant colonel and author who served as an aide to Dick Cheney, in the general election in November, who she insists will hurt American families with his policies on healthcare.

“I look forward to a heated debate on the issues going forward. We have very different priorities,” Soderberg said.

Soderberg says a top priority for the district will be funds for Central Florida roads and transportation, saying she favors high speed rail and a dependable bus system.

Soderberg was part of Clinton’s team to the UN, holding the rank of ambassador. She also served as a deputy national security advisor in the Clinton administration. Back in 2012, Soderberg ran for a state Senate seat but was defeated by Republican Aaron Bean.

 

Reach Mike Synan at Mike.Synan@floridadaily.com.

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