Donna Shalala’s candidacy wouldn’t put CD 27 into play, right? RIGHT?
Donna Shalala has until next month to file her financials.

Donna Shalala

Another day, another hot take on the crowded Democratic primary in Florida’s 27th Congressional District. According to POLITICO Florida, Donna Shalala’s possible entrance into the race has one candidate downright giddy, or at least showing a good poker face.

State Representative David Richardson believes Shalala’s record as Secretary of Health & Human Services will be an opportunity for his campaign to rev up his already aggressive, Bernie Sanders-style online fundraising operation.

With no disrespect to Marc Caputo (who, me?), it’s one thing to bury the lede, it’s another to miss it altogether. This story certainly falls into the latter category.

For perhaps the first time since Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen announced she was retiring from a district that went to Hillary Clinton by 20 points in 2016, the Republican primary in CD 27 has the more interesting story.

Shalala is the perfect foil to fire up the Republican base, not Richardson’s. Indeed, she might be the only Democrat who could make Republicans competitive in this now-decidedly likely-D seat.

Think about it.

Bruno Barreiro, the Miami-Dade County Commissioner and front-runner in the Republican primary, is raising little money, and picking up little traction, in a seat that national Republicans have all but written off already. But now the prospect of a face-off with Bill Clinton‘s longest-serving Cabinet member, and more recent head of his infamous (to the Right) family foundation seems like a possibility.

How much money will Barreiro be able to raise based SOLELY on ratcheting up the rabid hatred the GOP base nationwide has for the Clintons?

Correct answer: a $&#% load.

From Breitbart to Limbaugh, California to New York, Romney to Rubio, nothing — NOTHING! — energizes and activates the GOP’s fanatic grassroots quite like Hill and Bill. Whitewater, Benghazi, “her emails!”, #PizzaGate, Monica, and the one that gets them in an absolute fever pitch every time — the Clinton Foundation.

Until recently Shalala served as the Clinton Foundation’s president, a role that put her atop the organization at one of its most difficult periods from a PR perspective.

You can literally visualize the blast emails, breathless pieces of direct mail, and talk radio calls to action now: “Stop crooked Hillary’s power grab — Send Commissioner Barreiro a small donation — in Washington he’ll help President Trump drain the swamp by fighting back against Crooked Hillary’s pal, Donna Shalala.”

Ouch. That’ll fill a hefty war-chest in no time.

If Barreiro’s campaign team can rub two brain cells together, they’re already out buying lists and drafting urgent, conspiracy-laden fundraising bon mots designed to enrage the base and turn on the firehose of grassroots money.

If Democrats are going to take back the House in November, CD 27 is not just a must-win, but should be a layup that doesn’t require resources that would otherwise go to more competitive seats (like neighboring CD 26, which actually has a popular, well-funded incumbent).

Donna Shalala could be the only Democrat running for that seat who might actually put it in play for the Republicans.

So let me reiterate my opinion from a few weeks back.

Shalala for Congress? Thanks, but no thanks.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.


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