Debbie Mucarsel-Powell announced a Senate run against Sen. Rick Scott of Florida on Tuesday in a long-shot bid for Democrats who are teetering on the brink of extinction in the sunshine state.
“I’m an immigrant, a Latina, a mother,” she said in her video announcement. “And we made history together when I became the first South American immigrant ever elected to Congress. I’ve already fought guys like Rick Scott and beat them.”
In a video announcing her candidacy, Mucarsel-Powell attacked Scott’s economic agenda, which has come under scrutiny for its plan to raise taxes and sunset all federal legislation in five years, including social services — a politically risky proposal in senior-heavy Florida.
Mucarsel-Powell is the first Ecuadorian-born American elected to Congress. She served one term in office after besting veteran Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida’s 26th congressional district in 2017 when Democrats swept Republicans in the House two years into Donald Trump’s presidency. Two years later, she lost to Rep. Carlos Gimenez after her district swung Republican, a loss she attributed to factors such as a “targeted disinformation campaign to Latinos,” fears of socialism, and “an electorate desperate to re-open” after the pandemic.
Democrats have become more optimistic after an unexpected mayoral victory in Jacksonville last May. After the win, State Democratic Chair Nikki Fried told Politico, “Everybody is really excited. They feel that this is a great signal and that there is something to invest in Florida.” Democrats launched a $1 million voter registration push last month.
But Scott is the top 2024 target. The senator and former two-term governor has never won an election by more than 1.2 points, and in 2018, he won by a razor-slim margin — just 0.2 percent separated him and former Senator Bill Nelson.
“Rick Scott is highly vulnerable,” the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee said in a statement. “ Debbie Mucarsel-Powell would be a strong candidate to defeat him.”
Mucarsel-Powell will face nine other Democrats in an August 2024 primary.
The View From Rick Scott's Campaign
Scott’s campaign released a statement in response to Mucarsel-Powell’s announcement stoking the same socialism fears she said contributed to her 2020 loss.
“We’d like to welcome yet another failed congressional candidate to the crowded Democrat primary, Priscilla Ivasco, Scott’s campaign spokesperson, said in a statement. ”Former Congresswoman Mucarsel-Powell is a radical socialist who voted 100% of the time with Nancy Pelosi during her short tenure in Congress, which is why the voters of South Florida booted her out of office the first chance they got. Floridians already rejected her once and they will reject her again.”