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Taddeo on 'socialist' name-calling in District 27 race: two can play that game

Annette Taddeo MH Alie.jpeg
Alie Skowronski
Miami Herald
Annette Taddeo speaks at a primary victory party for Florida's 27th Congressional District, on August 23, 2022.

One of the most competitive congressional races in the country is playing out right here in our backyard.

Florida’s District 27 — which covers broad parts of Miami-Dade County, stretching from Miami’s Little Havana to South Dade — is up in the air, with incumbent Republican Congresswoman Maria Elvira Salazar and Democratic State Senator Annette Taddeo battling out for the seat.

The district has flipped between Republicans and Democrats over the past few election cycles but many believe this year's redistricting redrew the lines slightly in favor of Republicans.

Daniel Rivero, the co-host of the South Florida Roundup, sat down with Taddeo at her campaign office in South Miami to discuss the race and what she expects to do if elected. WLRN contacted Congresswoman Salazar’s campaign many times for an interview, but they did not respond.

While discussing affordability, Taddeo criticized Salazar for voting against bills that she thinks were in the best interest of the people – saying her opponent based her decisions on whether she thought they were "socialist".

She referred to Salazar's vote against the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which authorized funds for Federal-aid highways, highway safety programs, transit programs and other purposes.

“I actually think that my opponent, Maria Elvira, is really more interested in having the problem than in actually coming up with solutions, because every opportunity that she's had to help people that need the most help in our community, she votes against it,” she said.

READ MORE: On Salazar, are Dems fighting fire with fire — or trying to make two wrongs a right?

Some of Taddeo's campaign advertisements have turned a hallmark of South Florida politics on its head. Virtually every election cycle Republicans will accuse their Democratic opponents are socialists. Now, Taddeo's advertisements have been using that same word against Salazar.

“Republicans have successfully used our fear of totalitarian regimes and government control over our lives as a wedge,” Taddeo explained.

“I’m saying, 'enough already'. If you really want to come up with solutions and work together, then let’s do that. But no more name-calling — and if you’re going to do that, I’m going to call you out because you are the one taking out freedoms away.”

Miami Herald

District 27 is heavily Cuban-American. In a recent poll of Cuban Americans by Florida International University, 68% of respondents said they do not believe the U.S. embargo on Cuba is working. Nevertheless, 63% want it to continue.

“What the community is saying is what I've been saying,” she said. “The Cuban regime can actually lift the embargo as soon as they let out their political prisoners, as soon as they have free and fair elections, as soon as they allow political parties — that is in law in the United States.”

Senator Taddeo was born in Colombia and has been sharply critical of the left-wing president Gustavo Petro since before he was elected earlier this year. Since taking office, he's been floating ideas that rub many in the U.S. the wrong way — including decriminalizing cocaine.

If elected, Taddeo believes her experience makes her uniquely qualified to deal with foreign policy towards Colombia and other countries.

“I think that we need someone that is always going to be thinking like I will be, [about] the United States' national security interests, and economic interests as well,” she added.

”Because, of course, as things go wrong in Central and South America and the Caribbean, we see more people taking that very dangerous trek to the U.S. border with Mexico and creating all kinds of problems for the United States.”

On Friday's South Florida Roundup, we also discussed a lawsuit in Palm Beach County over LGBTQ+ flags in a classroom with Palm Beach Posts education reporter Katherine Kokal, as well as Fantasy Fest returning to Key West in full for the first time since 2019 with WLRN’s Key West reporter Gwen Filosa and the director of the event Nadene Gossman Orr.

Listen to the full episode above.

Helen Acevedo, a freelance producer, is a grad student at Florida International University studying Spanish-language journalism, a bilingual program focused on telling the stories of diverse communities.
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