Former educator secures Democratic nod to challenge Curbelo in Florida

Former educator secures Democratic nod to challenge Curbelo in Florida

Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell scored her party’s nomination on Tuesday, setting her up to challenge Rep. Carlos CurbeloCarlos Luis CurbeloEx-GOP Rep. Ryan Costello joins group pushing carbon tax Hispanic Caucus boasts record membership in new Congress Chuck Todd says his show is 'not going to give time to climate deniers' MORE (R-Fla.) in Florida's 26th District.

Mucarsel-Powell won with 64 percent of the vote, edging out primary opponent Demetries Grimes who won 36 percent of the vote with 85 precincts reporting, according to a projection from the Associated Press.

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She will now face Curbelo to represent the South Florida district won by Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTexas man indicted over allegations he created fraudulent campaign PACs FISA shocker: DOJ official warned Steele dossier was connected to Clinton, might be biased Pompeo’s Cairo speech more ‘back to the future’ than break with past MORE by more than 16 points in 2016. The Cook Political Report ranks the race as "Lean Republican."

While Florida’s Democratic-leaning 26th District has widely been seen as prime pick-up territory for Democrats in their effort to flip control of the House, Murcasel-Powell starts the race by having to make up ground against Curbelo. 

A poll conducted for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) shows Mucarsel-Powell trailing Curbelo 41-48 percent. But when respondents were given basic biographical information about the two candidates, they pulled even, 46-46 percent.

Mucarsel-Powell, a former associate dean at Florida International University who emigrated to the United States from Ecuador as a teenager, has talked up her policy proposals on gun control, health care and environmental protection.

Curbelo, who is running for a third term in the House, hasn’t shied away from criticizing Trump and his administration.

He was among the first Republican lawmakers to call for former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: Wheeler weathers climate criticism at confirmation hearing | Dems want Interior to stop drilling work during shutdown | 2018 was hottest year for oceans Dems blast EPA nominee at confirmation hearing Dem senator expresses concern over acting EPA chief's 'speedy promotion' MORE’s ouster, and has hit Trump over his attacks on special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE’s investigation.

Curbelo has also been among a group of House Republicans pushing legislation to provide protections for beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, while stepping up border security funding.

Mucarsel-Powell has also pledged to take swift action on immigration reform, vowing to push back on Trump’s hardline stance on the issue.