A Fresh New Face in South Florida Politics... Alina Valdes, MD
Largely at the urging of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the DCCC has studiously ignored FL-25 as a pick-up target. There's been a very hands-off policy in a congressional district that stretches from west and northwest Miami-- Fountainebleau, Doral and Sweetwater-- Hialeah and Miami Lakes, west through Collier County and the Naples suburbs and up into Hendry County. 71% of the residents are Hispanic-- just under 40% of whom are Cuban-Americans; there is also a huge Venezuelan population centered on Doral. The district has leaned Republican but Romney only beat Obama 51-49% and the demographic trends are blue. With Trump at the head of the ticket, this would be a perfect year for the Democrats to win an overwhelmingly Hispanic district. Instead, the DCCC has ignored FL-25 and shunned the progressive physician running, Alina Valdes, who you may recall from Wednesday morning when she responded to Mario Diaz-Balart's refusal to back a successful bipartisan plan to allow doctors in V.A. hospitals in states where medical marijuana is legal to prescribe it.
I asked Alina to introduce herself to DWT readers and explain some of the policy differences she has with Diaz-Balart. If you like what you read, please consider contributing to her very grassroots-oriented campaign at the BernieCongress ActBlue page.
South Florida Deserves A Real Alternative
-by Alina Valdes
Congressional Candidate, FL-25
When I decided to run for Congress about a year and a half ago, I did so knowing that it would not be easy but after seeing the dysfunction in DC and the continued loss of hard-fought rights in social and economic issues, I came to the conclusion that it was something I had to do. Not being a career politician did not deter me but I knew I would need to work harder to find out as much as I could about the process and then go out and meet as many people as I could in FL CD 25. Living in this district, I did not agree with many of the positions the incumbent Republican, Mario Diaz-Balart, was taking on the issues important to the people in the district.
Knowing that the DNC chair, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, represented the neighboring district, I felt that I should speak to her out of respect for her title and experience. I made sure I went to meetings where she was the speaker and after several attempts, I was ultimately ignored. When I met her assistant a few weeks later, I asked about the appointment I was to have with her and was told that I would be waiting a long time before that happened in a sarcastic tone. I did not understand at the time why I was being ignored as I was running as a Democrat against a career incumbent Republican who had gone unchallenged by a Democrat since 2008. Since then, I have learned the following facts and propose the following statements:
1. In 2008, the DNC chair, then the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's Red-to-Blue program to flip seats in Congress, supported all three Republican incumbents in South Florida against three challenging Democrats, claiming the 3 Republicans were her friends. This is not the attitude I would expect from someone tasked with changing the political climate in Congress.
2. Despite several attempts to contact the DCCC about my candidacy. I have not received a response to emails and phone calls and have been ignored as a candidate for FL CD-25. Since then, they have endorsed mainly establishment career politicians, some with questionable records in their field.
3. Not being a career politician but a general internist who has spent over 30 years as a public servant in physician-shortage areas taking care of the poor, uninsured, and homeless in these communities, I have listened to many of these folks talk about how the current political climate does not listen to their needs. Most are working people who find themselves living in poverty though they are working sometimes two and three jobs just to pay the bills. They cannot afford health care and many other benefits that come with having living wage jobs and they feel disenfranchised by this political system.
4. I am a proud Progressive Democrat and a Cuban-born American citizen who happens to be bilingual and can serve the needs of a largely Latino community because of my intimate understanding of the issues and concerns affecting this community. I favor lifting the Cuban embargo since this has been a failed policy that no longer serves to benefit Americans and, more importantly, the Cuban people whose lives have been adversely affected by this outdated policy. The Republican incumbent in CD-25 along with his fellow South Florida Cuban delegation and the DNC chair continue to favor maintaining this policy even though the consensus has shifted towards lifting the embargo even in South Florida and among younger Cubans who have acknowledged this as a failed policy that needs to be corrected.
5. While I am a supporter of a one-payer health care system, I have noticed an improvement in affordable health care with the ACA or Obamacare. The provisions have included millions of people who could not afford coverage before while also including many provisions like yearly physicals with blood tests appropriate to the age group, preventive health maintenance tests like mammograms and colonoscopies to name a few. It also allows parents to cover their children until age 26 on their health plans in addition to subsidies for millions of Americans to have the security of knowing that an illness will not bankrupt them because of lack of coverage. A city in FL CD-25 had the highest enrollment to the ACA of any in the country... Hialeah. So why does Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart keep voting, along with the other 2 South Florida Republicans, to repeal and replace Obamacare? Over 60 times the House has voted for this measure and each and every time, they have all voted to repeal but we have yet to hear a plan to replace with what. By so doing, he is voting against the wishes of his constituents who want health care in large numbers. So where is the accountability when there is no challenge to his candidacy?
South Florida and CD-25 now have a choice in Alina Valdes, MD. As a progressive Democratic Latina, I have listened and will continue to listen to the people of the district. In spite of the lack of help from the establishment, the campaign has qualified to be on the ballot with petitions doing it the old-fashioned, grassroots way... with boots on the ground. Now we need your support to mount our campaign against an established career politician who gets his support from corporate and special interests groups. They have his loyalty and his vote. It is time to retire career politicians of this "Do Nothing Congress" and elect progressives like myself, who will work every day to make people's lives better.
Visit the campaign website to find out more about the issues and give whatever you can to support our campaign.