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Mucarsel-Powell who lost her seat, was the first South American immigrant to ever be elected to Congress. Photo: Miami Herald
Mucarsel-Powell who lost her seat, was the first South American immigrant to ever be elected to Congress. Photo: Miami Herald

Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell breaks down what happened with Florida Latinos

“There were many factors,” explained Rep. Mucarsel-Powell on Twitter. 

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The powerful potential of the Latinx voting bloc was confirmed in the 2020 election. Long reported to be a “sleeping giant” that historically doesn’t show up to vote, this year they showed up in record-breaking numbers across the nation.

It resulted in decisive wins in Arizona and Florida, the latter not in Joe Biden’s favor. 

Strategists and politicians with foresight had been sounding the alarm about Democratic vulnerabilities with Latinos for a long time. They include Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Strategist Chuck Rocha, and most recently, Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, whose fears were confirmed this election cycle. 

Joe Biden’s underperformance with the Latinx voting bloc signals a struggling connection on many fronts.

Mucarsel-Powell, the first South American immigrant to ever be elected to Congress was defeated by fellow Latino challenger and former Republican Mayor of Miami-Dade County, Carlos Giménez in the race for Florida’s 26th Congressional District.

In her time in office, Mucarsel-Powell fought to curb gun trafficking and gun violence, and demanded investigations into Florida’s ICE facilities after reports of discrimination against Muslim detainees, among other battles.

Amid COVID-19, she was and continues to be a harsh critic of both Florida governor Ron DeSantis and her opponent, Giménez, for their response to the pandemic.

On Nov 18, Mucarsel-Powell sought  to “set the record straight” on Twitter, in a thread examining an election in which she and fellow Florida Democratic Rep. Donna Shalala lost their seats and President-elect Joe Biden lost Florida by a much wider margin than anticipated. 

She said fear of socialism solely cannot explain her unexpected loss on Election Day, and broke down what she believes transpired in one of the nation’s biggest battleground states.

While the GOP claims that Democrats were socialists circulating in Florida did damage to several democratic candidacies in Florida, there is a list of other factors to explain what happened in Florida, which Mucarsel-Powell discussed in her thread. 

“Yes, the fear of socialism is real and engrained for those of us who fled dangerous places in search of the American dream. My own father was murdered by a criminal with a gun in Ecuador. But it's not why I lost and it's not the only reason South Florida went red,” she wrote.

There was a rampant disinformation campaign targeting Spanish speakers, for one. It was also both parties’ misplaced ideas that racial identity designates how one votes.

Comparing Biden’s and Mucarsel-Powell’s loss margins, the representative did better among her constituents compared to the president-elect.

She credits her campaign tactics, which included  in-person door knocking and Spanish outreach in a Hispanic-heavy district, with outperforming Biden.

“I was a leader in advocating for Venezuelan freedom — and as an immigrant, my story is the Miami story,” she added. “But it wasn't enough. Because South FL is extremely diverse. We are unique. And when others try to treat Latinos as a monolithic group, they miss the nuances.” 

Mucarsel-Powell lost her seat, but says “Our brightest days are ahead,” only if the nation steps back to deeply analyze how Latinos are considered in the electoral process. 

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