When Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez walked inside the Homestead Detention Center last year during the height of the national controversy over the Trump administration’s family separation policy on immigration, he made a point of speaking to the children alone and in Spanish.
“What I found in that shelter — there was nothing going on there that would make me feel ashamed to be an American,” Gimenez, a Republican who is now running for the House of Representatives, said in a recent interview.
Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, Gimenez’s opponent in the November election, had a very different experience.
“I visited the Homestead Detention Center multiple times, and each time it broke my heart,” said Mucarsel-Powell, a Democrat who currently holds the Miami District 26 congressional seat. “The facility felt very much like a prison built for child immigrants: high fences, guards, and constant monitoring.”
From immigration to gun control, Mucarsel-Powell and Gimenez view the world differently. But while Mucarsel-Powell’s beliefs on healthcare, climate change and foreign policy are well-known after two years in Congress, Gimenez — a career administrator occupying a non-partisan post — has spent relatively little time publicly discussing his priorities during his first-ever partisan campaign. In a 45-minute interview with the Miami Herald last week, about two months before the Nov. 3 election, he detailed his stances on a number of federal policy issues.
Gimenez, 66, said he won’t stray far from prevailing Republican policies such as opposing Obamacare, voting against gun control legislation or funding a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border. But the two-term mayor with President Trump’s endorsement — who has presided over the county’s pandemic response to mixed reviews — said he’ll be focused most on the economy.
“I believe the No. 1 thing the country needs right now is the restoration of the economy,” Gimenez said, when asked what would be his top priority if elected. He cited cutting taxes as one way to help achieve that.
“We need sensible tax policy that incentivizes investment by the private sector,” Gimenez said, arguing that the post-COVID economy will depend on rapid job gains in the private sector. “I don’t believe the public sector is the place to seek employment.”
Mucarsel-Powell’s top priority if elected to a second term is similar. She cited the need “to get control of this pandemic with a clear and effective plan, so we can send our kids back to school, reopen our small businesses, and allow our tourism economy to rebound.”
Mucarsel-Powell, 49, is a one-term incumbent occupying a Democratic-leaning seat. Endorsed by Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, she’s been a reliable vote for her party’s leadership in Congress, though many ambitious bills she voted for had no prospect of becoming law with Republicans controlling the U.S. Senate.
The race is expected to be close, especially as Trump appears to be performing better with Latino voters in Miami-Dade than he did in 2016, and 67 percent of the congressional district’s eligible voters are Latino. Mucarsel-Powell has an advantage in