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In a repositioning move, LGBT activist Janelle Perez announced last week that she was dropping her bid for U.S. Congress to go after a Florida Senate seat.

Perez, 34, a married lesbian and mother who survived a stage four cancer diagnosis, was seeking the Democratic nomination in Congressional District 27. Instead, Perez has decided to challenge incumbent Senator Ileana Garcia (R-Miami) for the seat in District 37.

In a Facebook post, Perez said the decision, while not easy, was the best way to make a positive impact.

“Republicans in Tallahassee have failed our state and I cannot sit idly by as they make us less safe, restrict our rights and hurt our children,” Perez said. “I will fight to improve pandemic health measures, protect voting rights, tackle the climate crisis, foster economic recovery and protect a woman’s right to choose. There’s too much at stake to let Republicans keep control of this Senate seat.”

In the 2020 election, Garcia defeated incumbent Senator José Javier Rodríguez by just 34 votes. The election was marred by the discovery of a sham third-party candidate named Alex Rodríguez who prosecutors say was paid $44,000 by former Sen. Frank Artiles to enter the race and confuse voters. Garcia has denied involvement in the scheme.

“The only way that Republicans flipped the 37th Senate district was by playing dirty tricks,” Perez said. “They stole this seat. It’s time for us to take it back.”

In less than two months since her first campaign announcement, Perez’s political action committee raised close to $300,000. With her shift to the state race, it remains to be seen who will emerge as the Democratic front-runner in CD27.

Incumbent Congresswoman Maria Elvira Salazar (R-Coral Gables) ousted former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services and University of Miami President Donna Shalala from office in the 2020 election.


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