Lebanese American Democrat linked to Clintons loses House seat in Florida

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A prominent Lebanese American Democrat linked to the Clintons lost her congressional seat to a Republican on Tuesday.

Democratic Congresswoman Donna Shalala, whose grandparents came to the US from Lebanon, was defeated by Republican candidate Maria Elvira Salazar in Florida’s 27th congressional district, which includes most of central Miami.

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Shalala is known for her close ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton, serving as former President Clinton’s secretary of Health and Human Services from 1993 to 2001, and later becoming president of the Clinton Foundation.

She was the first Lebanese American to serve in a White House Cabinet position, and also previously served as president of the University of Miami.

In August, Shalala said that she would work with Congress and the State Department to make sure the US provided humanitarian assistance to Lebanon after the Beirut port explosion.

Salazar, a Spanish-language television newscaster and Cuban-American, had attacked Shalala in the run-up to the election for comments in which the incumbent called herself a “pragmatic socialist.”

Florida Republican Maria Elvira Salazar speaks in Miami. (AP)
Florida Republican Maria Elvira Salazar speaks in Miami. (AP)

Shalala later said she meant to say she was a pragmatic capitalist.

GOP candidates won 16 out of Florida’s 27 congressional races, according to Associated Press data.

The state also went red in the presidential race, with US President Donald Trump getting 51.3 percent of the vote compared to former US Vice President Joe Biden at 47.8 percent.

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