By Jim DeFede

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – As his campaign touts a new poll showing the race tightening, Matt Haggman, one of the candidates challenging front-runner Donna Shalala for the Democratic nomination in the 27th Congressional District, continues to draw a distinction with his 77-year-old opponent by saying voters have a “desire for new leadership, they want new blood.”

“They want new people in our politics,” Haggman said in an interview with CBS4’s Jim DeFede. “They are sick of the status quo. And they want change in a big way.”

Asked if was suggesting Shalala was too old to do the job, Haggman said: “Absolutely not. It’s not about age at all.” He said it was about new ideas.

“We are running a campaign where we are not accepting any money from political action committees, no money from federal lobbyists, no money from special interests such as Big Sugar,” Haggman said. “Why is that important? Take for example guns. Right now in our country over 90 percent of Americans, some polls in the 80s, nevertheless, an enormous majority want universal background checks. And yet we see no movement at all right now in Congress. Why? I think it all goes back to campaign finance and how we are electing our political leaders.”

Haggman says he believes support for Shalala, the former president of the University of Miami, is soft and based solely on name ID.

“We’re sensing real momentum right now,” Haggman said. “This week we knocked on our forty-thousandth door.”

Haggman is running to be the Democratic nominee for the congressional seat being vacated by Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

Haggman has called for dismantling ICE, creating a Medicare-for-all healthcare system, and comprehensive immigration reform.

Jim DeFede