CORAL GABLES (CBSMiami) – A key house race for a South Florida district has flipped from red to blue.
Democrat Donna Shalala has won the election for District 27, flipping a seat that had belonged to Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen since 2013.
Shalala was running against Republican Maria Elvira Salazar.
Both hoped to replace Ros-Lehtinen, who decided not to run again.
It didn’t take long for Shalala to be declared the winner by CBS News.
The former University of Miami President and health and human services secretary felt she scored points among voters as she fought for unity and health care.
Shalala told her supporters that her campaign is about the future.
“I hope to bring the country together,” she said.
The crowd cheered as she was declared the winner in the Congressional race against Elvira Salazar, the former broadcaster.
“In the end I outwork everyone,” Shalala said. “My staff is exhausted. At the end of the day, it was health care. Everyone was concerned about that and there were climate issues.
“The divisions in our country infected people with hate. We have always embraced people with different backgrounds and to set them against each other is simply un-American.”
Ros-Lehtinen, who held the seat starting in 2013, posted her congratulations to Shalala.
“I am so greatly honored that would be my replacement,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “You are going to be a super duper groovy member of Congress and you are never going to forget the roots and Miami is all about you.”
Shalala, who is no stranger to politics, is confident she can make a difference.
“I am not a rookie,” she said. “I am going to hit the ground running. I ran on the future and on my resume. This is about the future for the kids and the opportunities in the future and pursuing the dream. So kids will feel safe in school and teachers will be well paid.”
This was the first time that Shalala ran for an elected office. She replaces a congresswoman who was first elected in 1989.
This was considered an important race as Democrats try to take control of the House of Representatives.