In a devastating blow to the President and his party, Democrats have scored yet another victory in a district previously held for decades by the Republican Party.
Although officially a nonpartisan race, the de facto Democratic candidate Eileen Higgins, a marketing executive and community activist who helped organize efforts to reduce gun violence in Miami-Dade, defeated de facto Republican Zoraida Barreiro for a spot on the Miami-Dade County Commission, flipping the seat to Democratic control. The seat had been held by Barreiro’s husband, Bruno Barreiro, for 20 years. He resigned to run in a Republican congressional primary to replace retiring Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in Florida’s 27th Congressional district.
Overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Higgins defeated the better funded, decades-long incumbent’s wife by a staggering 6 percentage points in an upset that wasn’t even close in the end. The win is even more remarkable because it gives Democrats a decisive 7 out of 13 seats, enough to control the County Commission for the first time in years.
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Higgins has won Miami-Dade County 5. She dominated in Miami-Beach and did surprisingly well in the more Cuban-heavy Flagler area. Barreiro's strongest area was Little Havana. Higgins' win gives Democrats 7/13 seats on the Miami-Dade Commission. #flapol #sayfie #MiamiDade pic.twitter.com/XI0K9Ilr5L
— Matthew Isbell (@mcimaps) June 20, 2018
“Well, we did it!” Higgins told her campaign volunteers. “When I got started, it really was about making sure that our neighborhood, our friends, our neighbors, and the rest of the county felt represented. And that we put people first, rather than special interests.”
Underscoring her victory is the fact that this “nonpartisan” election became a proxy battle for many high-powered Republicans. Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican from Miami, campaigned for Barreiro, and Barreiro’s husband poured at least $95,000 in contributions into her campaign. Many other lobbyists, developers and vendors also made sizable donations, but all for naught.
Higgins’ victory is only the latest in a wave of stunning Democratic success stories around the country. Thus far, Democrats have unseated Republicans in a vast number of what were thought to be unwinnable races. Aside from flipping New Jersey’s and winning Virginia’s gubernatorial races, Democrats also earned a historic victory when they elected Doug Jones to the Alabama Senate, the first time that a Democrat has won in that state in a quarter century.
Democrats have also picked up a slew of seats in other races around the country.
Since Trump’s inauguration, Democrats have flipped 43 total seats from red to blue. Republicans have only flipped three. In total, Democrats have seen flipped seats in 13 states: Georgia, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Washington, Virginia, Missouri, Kentucky, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and now Florida. Even in the most solidly red districts, Democrats are over-performing based on Trump’s 2016 numbers by double digits.
As the Trump administration and their Republican enablers in Congress continue their assault on the will of the American people – from healthcare to tax cuts for the rich to net neutrality to immigration to gun reform – voters across the country are delivering a serious message to the White House, one race at a time.