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Obamacare a Liability for Democrats in Toss-Up Congressional Elections

'We have a mess in the healthcare industry...'

Democrats ran on a platform of protecting and expanding the Affordable Care Act, but Republicans who vowed to repeal Obamacare fared better in their elections, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

Two Florida Democrats who won election in the 2018 midterms, when the Democrats grabbed control of the House, both lost their seats to Republican challengers.

Rep. Donna Shalala, a former president of the Clinton Foundation, lost her seat in the 27th District, which is within the former Democratic stronghold of Miami-Dade County.

Shalala campaigned against court cases and legislative actions to overturn Obamacare, and her constituency’s involvement in Obamacare gave her a strong reason to do so, the Miami Herald reported.

“I represent a district that has the highest number of people, more than 100,000, enrolled in the ACA,” she said. “Whether you get your health insurance from your employer, from Medicare, Medicaid or the marketplace, you have something to lose if this disastrous court case is upheld.”

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Her opponent, Maria Elvira Salazar, a liberal Republican, said she would back a carbon tax, an assault weapons ban, and amnesty for illegal aliens, the Miami Herald reported.

But she also ran against Obamacare, saying that the government should “allow the forces of the free market to invade” the health insurance industry.

“We have a mess in the healthcare industry,” she said. “I believe competition is the mother of good quality.”

This message won her a House seat in a county that voted for Biden by more than a 7-point margin.

In an adjacent district, Florida’s 26th, Republican Carlos Gimenez beat incumbent Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell by more than 3 points.

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Gimenez did not take a hardline stance against Obamacare, but his Mucarsel-Powell strongly supported it.

“I never said that I was against Obamacare. I said I think there are aspects of it that were good but obviously it needs a lot of fixing,” Gimenez said in an October interview, the Miami Herald reported. “I wouldn’t repeal it. I would fix it.”

Mucarsel-Powell portrayed Obamacare as the defining issue of the 2020 election.

“And so with this new nomination to the Supreme Court, we know that all the stakes are against us and protecting 300,000 people living with preexisting conditions here in Florida’s 26th district,” she said.

Democratic media consultant Kevin Cate argued that Obamacare is a winning political issue, but the Democrats failed to capitalize on it.

“It’s just been a failure of Democrats to make it an urgent economic issue that has credibility,” he said.

President Donald Trump said he had effectively eliminated Obamacare by scrapping its enforcement provision—the individual mandate—but he promised to repeal the remaining portions of the law in a second term.

Trump maintained that a new plan would provide health insurance to people with preexisting medical conditions.

Over in Texas’s 24th Congressional District, Republican Beth Van Duyne won an open seat on a similar platform: providing coverage for people with preexisting conditions while scrapping Obamacare.

Van Duyne, the former mayor of Irving, defeated Democrat Candace Valanzuela, who campaigned to expand the Affordable Care Act.

Van Duyne’s message was successful in the suburbs situated north of Dallas and Forth Worth, but Valanzuela has not yet conceded the race, NBC-DFW reported.

Jacobin Magazine, a far-left publication, noticed the failure of Obamacare to win voters in an article titled, “Obamacare Is Becoming a Big Problem for Democrats.”

The authors state that Obamacare is not as popular as a government-run health insurance system because it “fortified the political power of the private health insurers.”

Georgia Democratic Senate candidates, Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, both came in second in their elections while running in support of Obamacare and a public health insurance option.

Their Republican opponents, however, opposed Obamacare and a public option.

Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., voted twice to repeal Obamacare.

Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., has been less decisive about her position on Obamacare, including about whether she supports a lawsuit to dismantle it, The Hill reported.

“Regardless of what the courts do or do not decide, there is no question Congress needs to address healthcare issues facing Americans,” she said.

Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., has held a House seat in Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District for 30 years, but he lost his seat to Michelle Fischbach on Tuesay.

Peterson had taken perhaps the most moderate stance toward Obamacare of any Democrat in the House, yet his slight support for the law still may have cost him the election.

He voted against the initial passage of Obamacare in 2010 but has  since opposed measures to repeal it in full.

In a debate with Fischbach, Peterson even expressed openness to repealing and replacing the law if a viable alternative emerged, Inforum reported.

Fischbach said she supported Obamacare’s repeal and maintaining health insurance coverage for those with preexisting conditions.

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