FT. LAUDERDALE (CBS4) – Broward County restaurant owner Karen Harrington is once again taking on Democratic powerhouse Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, this time for the newly re-districted Congressional District 23.

Though the candidates are polar opposites in nearly every way, they have something deeply personal in common.

Harrington, a Republican, has spent the last two years introducing herself all over Florida.

“We believe we’ve done what we need to get our message out there and we know we will beat her this November,” Harrington told CBS4’s Natalia Zea.

Wasserman-Schultz has plenty of name recognition among voters. As the Chair of the Democratic National Committee, she regularly appears on local and national television.

Harrington says strangers and groups from across the country have sent her campaign checks in an effort to beat Wasserman Schultz. Harrington ran against her in 2010 and lost.

“Debbie is someone who is divisive and polarizing,” said Harrington.

Wasserman-Schultz told Zea she had no comment on that statement.

“I’m not focused on my opponent, I’m focused on continuing to fight for South Florida,” said Wasserman Schultz.

She added her track record of eight years in Congress will help her win re-election.

“My focus especially in the last couple of years has been helping us get the economy turned around, focusing on job creation, fighting for the middle class and working families.”

The two women are extreme opposites on nearly every issue.

Wasserman-Schultz said she is a supporter of marriage equality, she’s pro-choice, supports gun control and limits on handguns in particular. Harrington said her definition of marriage is between one man and one woman, she’s a pro-life candidate and is not in favor of restricting the second amendment. And as for handguns, she says she is an NRA member and has a concealed weapons permit.

Despite their differing viewpoints on social issues, they do have one very personal experience in common. They are both cancer survivors.

Both women say that impacts their campaigns, their stance on President Barack Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 and their view of the world.

“When you get hit with cancer, it’s an incredibly scary thing, and I don’t care how tough you are. It definitely is a life-altering moment,” said Wasserman-Schultz.

She said she is proud to have supported the Affordable Care Act, specifically the provision that prevents insurers from dropping patients based on pre-existing conditions.

Harrington said of being diagnosed three times with cancer, “(It) gives you a new perspective of life. You understand how important our health care system is to us.”

A health care system she believes needs an overhaul, arguing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will limit patient choices and access to quality doctors.

Come Election Day we will see which way voters lean in the newly created Congressional District 23.


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