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 CurbeloRepublicans can't exploit the left's climate extremism without a better idea Progressive Latino group launches first incumbent protection campaign The Memo: Bad polls for Trump shake GOP 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 ClintonThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Trump on Clinton's Sanders comments: 'She's the one that people don't like' Hillary Clinton tears open wound with her attack on Sanders 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 PruittEPA employees push 'bill of rights' to protect scientific integrity EPA's independent science board questions underpinnings of numerous agency rollbacks Overnight Energy: Rate of new endangered species listings falls | EPA approves use of 'cyanide bombs' to protect livestock | Watchdog says EPA didn't conduct required analyses MORE’s ouster, and has hit Trump over his attacks on special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSchiff: Trump acquittal in Senate trial would not signal a 'failure' Jeffries blasts Trump for attack on Thunberg at impeachment hearing Live coverage: House Judiciary to vote on impeachment after surprise delay 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.