Prominent South Florida Republican attorney Carlos Reyes will challenge U.S. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz in next year’s race for the Congressional District 23 seat.
The district is heavily Democrat. In last year’s presidential election, Hillary Clinton defeated Donald Trump 62 to 36 percent.
But, Reyes is considered to be a formidable candidate who might present Wasserman Schultz her biggest challenge to date.
A son of Cuban immigrants, Reyes has been a longtime advocate in the Hispanic legal community. He has served in a number of community leadership roles, including as a member of the South Broward Hospital District after being appointed by then-Gov. Jeb Bush.
In an email sent to supporters Sunday night, Reyes said his while his legal work has been rewarding, “it has been community service that has been so fulfilling.”
He said, until now, he always believed that the service he has performed was enough to serve his community.
“Yet, today, as I consider all that is happening in the country, the disharmony we see everywhere, the drastic decline in values, traditions, education, respect, and challenges to bedrock principles that have served our great nation from its’ foundation, I can’t help but think where will this end?” Reyes said in his email. “I look around and for the first time worry about what world, what America are we leaving to our kids, our nieces, nephews, and their kids…”
Wasserman Schultz could find herself in the most vulnerable political position since she was first elected to Congress in 2004.
She recently came under fire for keeping an aide on taxpayers’ payroll despite the fact that the aide, Imran Awan, an IT worker, was under federal investigation for procurement theft. Awan was caught trying to flee the country last month and was arrested for bank fraud.
She stepped down as the chair of the Democratic National Committee last year after Wikileaks published leaked emails showing the DNC favored Clinton over Bernie Sanders in the primaries.
Wasserman Schultz will have at least one challenger in the Democratic primary. Tom Canova, who lost to Wasserman Schultz in last year’s primary by 14 percentage points, will challenge her again.
Meanwhile, Reyes will have competition in the Republican primary.
Joe Kaufman, who lost to Wasserman Schultz last November, will run again. He lost to her by 16 percentage points last year, the closest any Republican has come to defeating her.
Another candidate, Carla Spalding, a Navy veteran and mental health educator, will also seek the GOP nomination.