Democrat Donna Shalala will flip Florida House seat: NBC News

  • Shalala, Bill Clinton's HHS secretary, is the second Democrat to flip a Republican-held House district in the midterms.
  • Earlier Tuesday, Democrat Jennifer Wexton was projected to defeat two-term Rep. Barbara Comstock in Virginia.
  • Shalala, 77, would be among the oldest freshman House members in history.
Florida Democratic Congressional candidate Donna Shalala attends  a protest at Miami International Airport as airport workers call for fair wages, union rights, paid sick leave, and safe workplaces on October 2, 2018 in Miami, Florida. 
Joe Raedle | Getty Images
Florida Democratic Congressional candidate Donna Shalala attends a protest at Miami International Airport as airport workers call for fair wages, union rights, paid sick leave, and safe workplaces on October 2, 2018 in Miami, Florida. 

Democrat Donna Shalala will win the race to replace retiring Florida Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, apparently defeating Maria Elvira Salazar to flip a House seat that has long been a target of Democrats, NBC projects.

Shalala, 77, would be among the oldest freshman House members in history.

Earlier Tuesday, Democrat Jennifer Wexton was projected to defeat two-term Rep. Barbara Comstock in Virginia.

According to the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, Florida's 27th District is considered a D +5, meaning Democratic candidates there do 5 percentage points better on average than Democrats nationwide. In 2016, Hillary Clinton won the district by 20 points, her largest margin of victory in any district that was represented by a Republican at the time.

Shalala is well known in the district, having served as the president of the University of Miami for more than 10 years. On the campaign trail, Shalala emphasized her experience, including her eight-year tenure as secretary of Health and Human Services in President Bill Clinton's administration.

Shalala also campaigned on a pledge to address climate change, an issue that deeply resonates with voters in Florida, which often bears the brunt of the Atlantic hurricane season.

Polls fluctuated throughout the campaign, with earlier surveys showing Salazar in the lead, and later polls showing Shalala leading by an average of 6 points.

In what was expected to be a good year for Democratic candidates, Shalala also significantly outraised and outspent Salazar. Through Sept. 30, campaign finance reports show that Shalala raised $2.9 million, more than double the $1.2 million that Salazar raised.

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