Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, who came to the U.S. from Ecuador as a child, defeated Republican incumbent Carlos Curbelo in a hard fought race for a South Florida Congressional seat.
The race, in Florida’s District 26, was one of the battleground districts targeted early by Democrats in their quest to take control of the U.S. House.
Mucarsel-Powell, 47, was born in Guayaquil and started her career working at non-profits and is a former associate dean at the Florida International University College of Medicine. She was among a group of political newcomers who were endorsed by former President Barack Obama.
Curbelo, 38, is Cuban-American and served two terms in the House. He is one of a few congressional Republicans who distanced himself from President Donald Trump on several issues, often criticizing him.
He opposed Trump from the beginning of the 2016 campaign, even comparing him to the late Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez, and didn’t vote for Trump.
One topic that Mucarsel-Powell zeroed in on during her campaign was Curbelo’s 2017 vote to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. South Florida has had higher rates of new healthcare coverage under the ACA than other areas in the country.
Mucarsel-Powell targeted Curbelo with ads in both Spanish and English since early September telling voters that Curbelo voted against the ACA.
Florida’s 26th district, which is 70 percent Latino stretches from southwest Miami-Dade, all the way down to Key West and includes parts of the Everglades and the Gulf Coast.