‘Embodiment of the American dream’: Donna Shalala endorses Annette Taddeo for Governor

'I know she will be a Governor who works to improve the lives of all Floridians.'

Sen. Annette Taddeo’s 2022 run at the Governor’s Mansion gained another endorsement Tuesday, when former Miami Congresswoman Donna Shalala announced her support.

“Annette is a lifelong Democrat, community leader, an activist and a state Senator who has always fought for us,” Shalala said in a written statement. “I know she will be a Governor who works to improve the lives of all Floridians, and I am proud to support her.”

Shalala, a former President of the University of Miami who served as U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services under former President Bill Clinton, pointed to Taddeo’s background as evidence of her strong, determined spirit.

Taddeo the daughter of World War II pilot Anthony Taddeo, fled Marxist terrorists in Colombia at 17 to move to the United States. She waited tables to put herself through college in Alabama, then relocated to Miami to help her parents after Hurricane Andrew struck in 1992. Three years later, she opened a translation services business now called LanguageSpeak.

“Annette’s life is the embodiment of the American Dream,” Shalala said.

After months of hinting at a possible run, Taddeo launched her campaign for Governor on Oct. 18. If she is elected the Democratic nominee, it would mark the first time in history a Hispanic woman earned a major party nomination for Florida Governor.

Taddeo has said it will take a “coalition of voters” for Democrats to regain the support of communities lost to their Republican opponents.

“I know I can be the leader to bring those communities back, not because I speak their language but because I know their values,” she said. “I speak to the values of a small business owner, the values of our parents and teachers, the values of our students, the values of our immigrant families.”

On Nov. 1, Taddeo announced she’d picked up bipartisan endorsements for her gubernatorial run, with the backing of Democratic Sen. Victor Torres of Orlando, Democratic former Rep. Cindy Lerner of Pinecrest, who also served as Pinecrest Mayor, among other roles, and Republican former Rep. Juan-Carlos “J.C.” Planas.

Torres said Florida is in dire need of new leadership, alluding to the toll COVID-19 has taken on the state and Gov. Ron DeSantisexecutive orders limiting how local governments and school districts can enforce safety measures to stem the virus’ spread.

“Our state has many challenges, and (Gov. DeSantis) has put Floridians in (harm’s) way,” he said in a written statement. “We need a Democratic nominee who will offer the clearest contrast, and I know the best candidate to do that is my good friend and colleague, Sen. Annette Taddeo.”

On Monday, two days before monthly fundraising reports were due at the Florida Division of Elections, Taddeo’s campaign announced she and her political committee, Fight Back Florida, raised more than $650,000 just two weeks after she entered the Governor’s race.

With regard to dollars alone, Taddeo faces stiff competition. Prior to entering the crowded race to unseat DeSantis, her campaign war chest held just over $300,000. That places her well behind fellow Democrats Nikki Fried and Charlie Crist. Fried, the state Agriculture Commissioner, holds more than $3 million between her campaign and political committee, Florida Consumers First. Crist, a Congressman who previously served as Florida’s Republican Governor, holds $2.84 million between his campaign and political committee, Friends of Charlie Crist.

None come close to DeSantis. The Republican’s campaign and political committee, Friends of Ron DeSantis, hold more than $58.3 million.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


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