Florida’s 27th Congressional District is in an almost semi-permanent campaign state.
The grassroots group, District 27 MIA Accountability, criticizes and attacks U.S. Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar almost daily on social media. A political action committee backed by former U.S. Rep. Donna Shalala has been running digital and TV ads for the past two weeks mocking the freshman Congresswoman as Shalala considers a rematch.
Meanwhile, Salazar has been pursuing earned media opportunities at a furious pace. Media tracking service, TrendKite, reveals that Salazar has been mentioned in twice as many news clips as U.S. Rep. Carlos Gimenez, a fellow Miami freshman.
While Salazar’s aggressive media posture in hardly new, it may also be a sign she is aware that Democrats locally and nationally view her as vulnerable and plan on making CD 27 a top target in 2022.
There also appears to be a stark contrast in the level of paid and grassroots activity between Florida’s 26th and 27th congressional districts.
District 27 MIA Accountability has already held in-person events, drawing dozens of supporters last week and has nearly 2,000 online supporters. There is no similar activity brewing next door in CD 26.
Aaron Bos-Lun, who founded the anti-Salazar group, said he and his friends “were saddened that Salazar won. We felt we had to do something and couldn’t wait for others to act. So far, she’s voted against the stimulus, against the LGBTQ community and rants breathlessly about communist boogeymen … a total embarrassment.”
Bold PAC, the political arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, began running a digital ad attacking Gimenez for his Jan. 6 vote against certifying the election results for Arizona and Pennsylvania.
Arizona Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego, the chairman of Bold PAC, recently told the Miami Herald that the group will make combatting misinformation surrounding the 2020 election a large part of its efforts in majority Hispanic districts such as CD 26 and CD 27.
Bold PAC has waded into South Florida elections before, exclusively supporting Hispanic Democrats, such as former U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell.
While the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) spent millions on behalf of Mucarsel-Powell in her failed reelection effort, they had no presence in the CD 27 contest as they believed Shalala was safe.
Although the election is 18 months away, several South Florida Democratic political consultants and potential candidates say they have not heard from anyone at DCCC about mounting a challenge to either Salazar or Gimenez.
Among those considering a run against Salazar are state Rep. Nick Duran, Miami City Councilman Ken Russell, and Mucarsel-Powell. Newcomer Janelle Perez, a former registered Republican and LGBTQ activist who worked for Republican House leadership on Capitol Hill, is also gauging interest. Most of these candidates are awaiting redistricting and a decision from Shalala on whether she will run again.
“Clearly we need to wait for redistricting and see what Donna wants to do. In the meantime, the DCCC needs to get its act together,” said one Democratic consultant who wished to remain anonymous. “They can’t afford to wait a year before attacking Salazar and Gimenez. They can’t assume someone else will do their job.”