Democrats are largely playing defense in the Senate this cycle. Nevertheless, it is always good to play offense in at least a few races in case there is a blue wave. They have a strong candidate in Texas running against Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in Rep. Colin Allred (D-TX). The only other state where the Democrats have any chance to knock off an incumbent Republican senator is Florida. There the unpopular Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) is running for reelection. But you can't beat somebody with nobody, so Democrats are hunting for someone to challenge Scott.
Many think they have found a candidate in former representative Debbie Mucarsel-Powell. About a quarter of all Floridians are Latino and Mucarsel-Powell immigrated to Florida with her family from Ecuador when she was 14. That isn't to say she would have a quarter of the votes locked down. Most Cuban-Americans are Republicans, but there are also many people from South America in Florida and they would be her base.
Although Scott is a multimillionaire and can self-fund his race, he has never run for the Senate in a presidential year. He has also said some things that could prove extremely toxic in Florida, especially that all laws—including Social Security and Medicare—should automatically expire after 5 years unless Congress explicitly votes to renew them. Needless to say, this would be the centerpiece of Mucarsel-Powell's campaign, which could add many seniors to her base as well.
Victoria McGroary, executive director of the BOLD PAC, the campaign arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, sees her as the candidate. McGroary said: "Debbie would be such a fantastic recruit. Rick Scott is one of the most vulnerable Republicans in the Senate. It is really time for Florida to have someone as strong as Debbie, a Latina, at the top of the ballot." Other Latino groups also chimed in their support.
If Mucarsel-Powell were to jump in, she would have company. Navy veteran Phil Ehr is already in. He tried and failed to knock off Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) in 2020. In contrast, Mucarsel-Powell won in 2020 in a swing district in Miami-Dade County. She has talked to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) about the race.
Democrats know that former representative Val Demings lost in 2022 by 16 points. Demings is Black. Maybe the time has come for something else, like a Latina. Florida will be tough for any Democrat, especially against a self-funding incumbent and former governor, but Mucarsel-Powell would probably be able to pull in money from Latino groups all over the country and in a blue wave might just be able to pull it off.
In politics, appearances are important, for better or worse. If she were to jump in, Latinos would be aware of her background. However, people who saw her at rallies or in ads would probably not instantly think: "immigrant from South America." Here is a photo of her:
Also, "Debbie" (her actual name, not "Deborah"), is not a common name for a Latina. (V)