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Republicans unseat two South Florida incumbent Democrats in Congress

Murphy, Mast, Frankel reelected.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez speaks during a protest by workers in the cruise ship industry wanting to return to work, at PortMiami on Oct. 21, 2020, in Miami.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez speaks during a protest by workers in the cruise ship industry wanting to return to work, at PortMiami on Oct. 21, 2020, in Miami. [ LYNNE SLADKY | AP ]
Published Nov. 4, 2020
Updated Nov. 4, 2020

TALLAHASSEE ― Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Giménez defeated U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, and journalist Maria Elvira Salazar defeated U.S. Rep. Donna Shalala as Republicans turned out strong Tuesday in two South Florida congressional districts.

Otherwise, the rest of the state’s U.S. House incumbents on the ballot Tuesday appeared headed toward reelection, according to unofficial results posted on the state Division of Elections website.

Giménez and Salazar joined three other new Republican members of Congress in Washington, D.C. in January. Lakeland City Commissioner Scott Franklin, former congressional aide Kat Cammack of Gainesville and state Rep. Byron Donalds of Naples defeated Democrats to win open seats.

Democratic incumbents Al Lawson, Stephanie Murphy, Darren Soto, Val Demings, Charlie Crist, Kathy Castor, Alcee Hastings, Lois Frankel, Ted Deutch, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Frederica Wilson were all ahead Tuesday night. As were Republican incumbents Matt Gaetz, Neal Dunn, John Rutherford, Michael Waltz, Bill Posey, Daniel Webster, Guz Bilirakis, Vern Buchanan, Greg Steube and Brian Mast.

U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a Miami Republican, was reelected when he didn’t draw a challenger, and U.S. Rep. Neal Dunn, a Panama City Republican, only faced two write-in candidates.

Victories by Giménez and Salazar increased the GOP advantage in the state’s congressional delegation to 15-12.

Gimenez won in District 26, which covers Monroe County and parts of Miami-Dade County. It was viewed early as a potential pickup by Republicans and drew “toss-up” status from various national outlets.

Mucarsel-Powell was a fierce fundraiser, drawing more than $6.25 million, to $1.96 million raised by Giménez. Outside groups spent at least $9.97 million to either support Mucarsel-Powell or oppose Giménez. Similarly, another $8.55 million went to assist Giménez.

Shalala’s' District 27 seat was a bit of a surprise as many outlets had listed the district “likely” or “solid” Democrat.

Shalala, who served as secretary of Health and Human Services under President Bill Clinton and is a former University of Miami president, raised $3.4 million. Salazar, a former television journalist, raised $3.14 million.

Despite matchups between Republicans and Democrats throughout most of the state, few congressional races were considered competitive.

Cammack, a former congressional aide who defeated a large Republican field in the primary to replace outgoing U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., easily was ahead Tuesday night in North Florida’s District 3 over Adam Christensen, a scientist at Essential Validation Service. The largely conservative district includes all or parts of Alachua, Bradford, Clay, Marion, Putnam and Union counties.

Meanwhile, Donalds easily topped Democrat Cindy Lyn Banyai of Fort Myers to replace outgoing U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney in the Southwest Florida Republican stronghold of District 19.

“Huge victory tonight! I’m truly humbled and honored,” Donalds tweeted. “Big thank you to my family, #TeamDonalds and our hard working volunteers that knocked doors, waved signs, and made calls to ensure Southwest Florida had a proven Conservative. I look forward to serving you in Washington!”

Democratic Congresswoman Lois Frankel secured a fifth term in holding District 21, which includes President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort. Frankel was ahead of Laura Loomer, a far-right activist who has been banned from some social media platforms because of anti-Muslim speech.

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