U.S. Rep. Donna Shalala has courted a Democratic challenger in Florida’s 27th Congressional District, as former CD 27 candidate Michael Hepburn announced he’s seeking a rematch.
The two faced off for the nomination in 2018, along with a trio of other candidates.
Shalala topped the five-person field with 32 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary. Hepburn, meanwhile finished in last, earning 6 percent.
With a likely smaller field in 2020, Hepburn is hoping for a different outcome.
“This district and these times deserve more than just a centrist approach, they demand a fighter and champion who exudes the fierce urgency of now,” Hepburn said in an announcement Thursday.
“All I have ever known throughout my life is to make sure that I’m part of the solution not the problem.”
Hepburn appears to once again be positioning himself as the progressive choice in the race. In 2018, Hepburn was endorsed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez the week before the primary election.
Both Hepburn and Ocasio-Cortez were backed by the progressive group “Brand New Congress” in 2018. Ocasio-Cortez went on to shock Democratic Rep. Joseph Crowley in New York, winning his seat.
But her endorsement of Hepburn wasn’t enough to make a dent in the CD 27 race. It’ll be a tougher call for Ocasio-Cortez to repeat the endorsement now that Shalala is a colleague. It remains to be seen whether the endorsement would give Hepburn a bump this time around.
In his announcement Thursday, Hepburn urged Democrats to go beyond bashing President Donald Trump and focus on policy goals.
“Our country is at a serious inflection point. The occupant of the White House is part of the equation but he’s not the root of the problem,” Hepburn said.
“The issues that consume our nation — massive income inequality, institutionalized bigotry, spineless politicians, and our inability of treating all lives with humanity and respect is an anchor that has plagued our nation for decades. We have not yet delivered on our nation’s proclaimed values and goals.”
Though Shalala is just a freshman in the U.S. House, she has longstanding ties to the political world. A longtime ally of Bill and Hillary Clinton, Shalala served as the Secretary of Health and Human Services under President Clinton. She was also the head of the Clinton Foundation for two years.
Even if her time in Congress has been short, Hepburn is still seeking to position himself as the candidate of new ideas.
“Making progress on longstanding challenges requires a new perspective,” Hepburn added.
“I will be one of the boldest voices in Congress, as an activist for the entire district and as a champion for education, healthcare and economic justice for all. This age of time demands nothing less.”