Tags: 2018 Midterm Elections | donna shalala | house | florida | woman | advanced age

Fla. Dem Shalala, 77, Would Be Second Oldest House Freshman

Fla. Dem Shalala, 77, Would Be Second Oldest House Freshman
Donna Shalala (Getty Images)

By Wednesday, 29 August 2018 05:36 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Republicans got new hope of retaining Florida's 27th District, being vacated by 15-term Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, when Donna Shalala won the Democratic nomination for the seat Tuesday.

Shalala, 77, secretary of Health and Human Services under Bill Clinton and a champion of big government programs, narrowly topped a field of six Democrats with 32 percent of the vote.

She now faces a strong fall opponent in Republican Maria Elvira Salazar, long a top-rated TV anchor in the Miami area.

"Now my viewers are my voters," said Salazar whose easy victory over two opponents contrasted with Shalala's squeaker.

If Shalala were to win in November, the onetime University of Miami president would be the second-oldest freshman U.S. Representative in history.

The oldest was Illinois Democrat Jim Bowler, who was elected at age 78 in a 1953 special election.

In 1906, Bowler and fellow machine Democrat Adolph Sabath had been vying for nomination to an open seat. Upon realizing the two contenders were deadlocked among the Cook County (Chicago) Democratic Committee, Sabath and Bowler decided to flip a coin. The winner would get the nomination and the loser would get the seat the next time it was open.

So, Sabath won the coin toss and went on to serve until his death in 1953 (when he was chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee). Area Democrats promptly nominated Bowler, a senior Member of the Chicago Board of Aldermen, and he won the special election.

Surrounded by colleagues as he was sworn in on the House floor, Bowler was repeatedly asked why he wanted to be a freshman congressman at 78.

He is reported to have replied: "Because I lost the coin toss, and it was my turn."

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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When Donna Shalala, 77, won the Democratic nomination for the seat Tuesday, Republicans got new hope of retaining Florida's 27th District, which is being vacated by 15-term Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
donna shalala, house, florida, woman, advanced age
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2018-36-29
Wednesday, 29 August 2018 05:36 AM
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