LPAC, a Super PAC that represents the interests of lesbians, jumped into the race to replace retiring Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in Florida's 27th congressional district by endorsing frontrunner, Donna Shalala.
Shalala, former Health and Human Services Secretary under former President Bill Clinton is running against openly gay David Richardson, a representative in the Florida House, for the Democratic nomination.
Democrats believe the 27th district is one of their best opportunities to pick up a seat in the House. The district is 71 percent Hispanic and went for Hillary Clinton 59 percent to 39 percent in 2016.
Meanwhile Richardson recently picked up the support of the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida.
“David Richardson has been a relentless champion for working families in the Florida Legislature, and we are confident that he will continue to put their interests first when he’s elected to Congress,” DPCF President Susan Smith told Florida Politics.
According to the Miami Herald Richardson has targeted Shalala attacking her liberal bona fides and labeling her as a "double-dealing corporate Democrat.”
“What I’m doing is exposing the truth about her record," Richardson told the Herald. "She has a duty to respond, not to me, but to the voters.”
But as the Herald notes Shalala is a co-founder of the women’s political action committee, Emily's List as well as a “Clintonite.”
"This election isn't just about electing a Democrat, it’s about electing the right Democrat," Richardson told the Herald. "When voters see the truth they’ll understand there’s a very clear difference between me and Donna Shalala."
Not everyone believes Richardson’s aggressiveness and negativity will work though.
"It’s always difficult to attack a woman running for office. Especially these days," Katy Sorenson, a former Miami-Dade county commissioner, told the Herald. Sorenson backed Richardson before Shalala got into the race. "It's not the advice I would have given David."
Richardson made history in 2012 when he became the first openly gay person elected to the state legislature.
Meanwhile Shalala was once attacked for being a closeted lesbian, which she denied. In 1992 when Bill Clinton appointed her as HHS Secretary, a radical LGBT group, Queer Nation, attempted to out her.
According to the Associated Press at the time: “Michael Petrellis, co-founder of Queer Nation, said his only evidence that Shalala is a lesbian is that several other homosexuals have made the claim. He said he wants her to say she is a lesbian to show people that a lesbian can hold such a prestigious position.”
The Clinton-Gore transition team vigorously defended Shalala telling the AP the accusations were “not true and it's irrelevant.”
"Donna Shalala was chosen for her position because she is a woman of competence, experience and vision who offers the country a great deal through her service," a Clinton spokesperson told the AP in 1992.
The other candidates in the Democratic primary include Matt Haggman, Michal Hepburn, and Kristen Rosen Gonzalez.
The primary takes place August 28.
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