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Democrat Phil Ehr exits US Senate race. Will challenge GOP Rep. Gimenez for Congress

Democrat Phil Ehr with former Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell during a Miami press conference announcing his campaign to run in the Democratic primary for Florida’s 28th congressional district, represented by Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Gimenez.
Max Greenwood
/
Miami Herald
Democrat Phil Ehr stands with former Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell during a Miami press conference announcing his campaign to run in the Democratic primary for Florida’s 28th congressional district, represented by Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Gimenez. Max Greenwood

Democrat Phil Ehr on Wednesday said he is leaving the 2024 race for a U.S. Senate seat and will run against U.S. Rep. Carlos Gimenez, R-Fla.

Ehr’s exit from the Senate race short-circuits a potential Democratic primary fight against former U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, who hopes to unseat U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla.

In a prepared statement, Ehr criticized Gimenez, a former Miami-Dade County mayor who was first elected to Congress in 2020.

“I am running to represent the people of south Miami-Dade and the Florida Keys with integrity,” said the former Navy commander of his new U.S. House campaign.

Added Ehr: “[Gimenez] joined MAGA extremists in creating dysfunction and chaos in Congress. Floridians want their individual freedoms protected and a democracy and economy that work for them. I will fight for this every day in Congress.”

Gimenez, in two rounds of votes for House Speaker this week, voted for former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who was ousted from the position by a group of hard-right conservatives.

Gimenez (R-Fla.) told reporters McCarthy deserved to “get another shot” at the job. He slammed Jordan’s aggressive lobbying efforts for the House speaker job.

“His tactics certainly didn’t work on me,” he told reporters on Capitol Hill. “Actually, I became more cemented in my position. … He should have probably left me to my own devices to get there. Now by being threatened, by being pushed — I’m Hispanic. I’m a Cuban. You just don’t do that to us.”

Late Wednesday, Gimenez posted on his "X" account a video of former President Trump telling reporters that none of the "chaos" in the House would have happened if he were still in the White House.

"I agree with our President Donald J. Trump!" Gimenez wrote.

Florida Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried, the state's former Ag commissioner, said her party is "fielding competitive races across the state from crucial congressional seats to the U.S. Senate to make sure we defeat Rick Scott next November."

The Washington-based Cook Political Report, which tracks congressional races nationwide, rated Gimenez's seat as "solid Republican," meaning it's not competitive. The district, which includes Monroe County and south Miami-Dade County, was considered a swing district in the past.

In 2022, Gimenez clobbered his Democratic opponent, Robert Asencio, by 28 points, 64%-36%, getting about 57,000 more votes.

In Monroe County, registered Republican voters outnumber Democratic voters, 23,053 to 14,901.

Even though members of Congress do not have to live in their congressional district, Ehr told the Miami Herald on Wednesday that he's “in the process of moving” from his current home in Pensacola to either Miami-Dade or Monroe County.

WRLN News Staff contributed to this report.

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