María Elvira Salazar

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María Elvira Salazar
REP.MES Headshot.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 27th district
Assumed office
January 12, 2021
Preceded byDonna Shalala
Personal details
Born (1961-11-01) November 1, 1961 (age 60)
Miami, Florida, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)
Renzo Maietto
(m. 1999; div. 2010)
Children2
EducationMiami Dade College
University of Miami (BA)
Harvard University (MPA)
WebsiteHouse website

María Elvira Salazar (born November 1, 1961) is an American journalist, author, and politician serving as the U.S. representative for Florida's 27th congressional district. She is a Republican assistant whip.[1] Before entering politics, Salazar worked for the Spanish-language network Telemundo for three decades after serving as a news anchor for Miami-based Mega TV. She has also worked for CNN Español and Univision.

Salazar was the Republican nominee for Congress in 2018, losing to Donna Shalala. She won the 2020 rematch with 51.4% of the vote to Shalala's 48.6%. Salazar's term in office began on January 3, 2021, and she was scheduled to be sworn in to the 117th United States Congress that day, but was diagnosed with COVID-19 shortly before the start of the term, and was sworn in on January 12 instead.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Salazar was born in Miami's Little Havana neighborhood, the daughter of Cuban exiles.[3] She grew up bilingual, speaking both Spanish and English.[4] She spent part of her childhood in Puerto Rico.[5]

Salazar studied at the Deerborne School of Coral Gables and graduated from Miami Dade College.[6] In 1983, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in communications from the University of Miami, and in 1995, she earned a Master of Public Administration from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.[7][8]

Journalism[edit]

Salazar's journalism career began in 1983 as a general assignment reporter for Channel 23.[9] In 1984, she served as senior political correspondent for the National News in Spanish television in the U.S. for the Spanish International Network, which later became Univision. In 1988, she began working as a White House and Pentagon correspondent for Univision. In 1991, she became the bureau chief at the Central America division of Univision while covering the war at El Salvador.[10]

In 1993, Salazar started working for the Telemundo Network, serving later as senior political correspondent for Telemundo in Cuba.[11] In 1995, she interviewed Fidel Castro for Telemundo at the Cuban mission to the UN. She is said to have been the only U.S. Spanish-language television journalist to interview Castro one-on-one.[12][13][14]

In 1996, she was one of the two Hispanic journalists to participate in the only political debate in the 50 years after the Cuban revolution between two politically active figures: Ricardo Alarcon, the president of the National Cuban Assembly, and Jorge Mas Canosa, the founder and president of the Cuban American National Foundation and one of the most famous supporters of the anti-Castro movement.[15]

Salazar worked at Telemundo[16][17] until 2002, when she continued her career as a journalist with America TV 41 with her own political news show, Maria Elvira Confronta.[18] In 2003, she moved to Channel 22.

In 2006, Raul Alarcon, owner of Spanish Broadcasting System (SBS), purchased channel 22, and the channel is now known as Mega TV. Salazar changed the name of her program to Polo Opuestos under the new owners. She maintained the debate dynamic of her show, but renamed it Maria Elvira Live!.[19][20]

She interviewed several actors of the telenovela Pablo Escobar: The Drug Lord, including the imprisoned Escobar lieutenant John Jairo Velásquez.[21]

Salazar has said that after her interview with Castro, her second-biggest TV interview was with the former Chilean president Augusto Pinochet in 2003.[22][23] Chilean Judge Juan Guzman cited the interview as a legal basis to rule Pinochet "mentally competent to stand trial for human rights violations".[24][25]

On 2013, Salazar interviewed Cuban dissident and blogger Yoani Sánchez in New York City.[26][27]

Salazar has interviewed several public figures, including Presidents Bill Clinton (1999) and George W. Bush (2001), Mexican Presidents Vicente Fox and Carlos Salinas de Gortari (2005), Spanish President José María Aznar (2007), Colombian Presidents Alvaro Uribe (2008) and Juan Manuel Santos (2014),[28] and Mother Teresa.[citation needed]

She has frequently appeared as a guest on Fox News television programs such as Fox & Friends,[29] The O'Reilly Factor,[30] Tucker Carlson Tonight,[31] Hannity[32][33] and The Ingraham Angle,[34] as well as Mornings with Maria[35] on the Fox Business Network and on the conservative network Newsmax,[36] sometimes stylized under the name Elvira Salazar. Among her topics of discussion are immigration, border security and the fight against socialism.

In 2016, Salazar returned to Mega TV[19] as the anchor of the night newscast.[37]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

Elections[edit]

2018

The Miami Herald reported in January 2018 that retiring Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican who had represented the 27th congressional district since 1989, had met with Salazar. Ros-Lehtinen said that her district was "totally winnable for the right candidate" from the Republican Party, adding that Salazar "could be the right candidate."[38]

In March 2018, Salazar announced her candidacy to represent the district, which includes Miami Beach, most of Miami, Kendall, and parts of coastal south Dade County. The traditionally Republican district, which includes wealthy communities like Miami Beach, Key Biscayne and Coral Gables as well as Little Havana in Miami, had been trending Democratic in recent years.[39]

Salazar's Republican primary opponent, Dade County Commissioner Bruno Barreiro, criticized her for her 1995 interview with Fidel Castro, in which she called Castro a "comandante", as well as a 2016 appearance on Fox News where she called Barack Obama's rapprochement with Cuba "noble". Salazar called Barreiro's attack advertising "defamatory", saying, "I have been one of the staunchest, most hardest critics of the Cuban Revolution on the air."[40]

On August 28, 2018, Salazar won the Republican primary by a margin of about 15 points over Barreiro, her leading rival.[41] Former Clinton cabinet member Donna Shalala won the Democratic nomination for the seat.[3] The only debates held during the general election campaign were in Spanish. Shalala does not speak Spanish and used an interpreter, giving Salazar an advantage. Each candidate declined opportunities to debate the other in English due to scheduling conflicts.[42] Although Hillary Clinton had won the district by almost 20 points in 2016 – Clinton's best showing in a Republican-held district – polling as late as a month before Election Day showed Salazar either narrowly ahead or statistically tied with Shalala.[43] Salazar lost to Shalala, who received about 52% of the vote.[44]

2020

In August 2019, Salazar announced her candidacy to run in a rematch against Shalala.[45] She was endorsed by President Donald Trump,[46] won the August 2020 Republican primary, and faced Shalala in the November general election.[47] The Cook Political Report, as well as various polling firms, classified the seat as "Likely Democratic", but Salazar won, 51.4% to 48.6%.[48][4] She was one of 19 new Republican women elected to the House of Representatives in the 2020 elections.[49][50][51] She is considered a rising star in the Republican Party.[52] Politico reported that Shalala attributed Salazar's strength to the potency of the socialism attacks among Miami's Cuban population, aided by Shalala calling herself a "pragmatic socialist".[53][54]

Tenure[edit]

Congresswoman Salazar introduces The FORCE Act against Cuba in January 2021.

In late 2020, Salazar was identified as a participant in the Freedom Force, a group of incoming Republican House members who "say they're fighting against socialism in America".[55][56][57][58] Due to her COVID-19 quarantine, Salazar missed voting on certifying the presidential election results in the House on January 6, 2021. On January 12, the day she was sworn in to Congress, Salazar voted against removing Trump via the 25th Amendment. On January 13, she voted against Trump's second impeachment.[59]

On February 4, 2021, Salazar was one of 11 Republicans who voted to strip Marjorie Taylor Greene of her House Education and Labor Committee and House Budget Committee assignments in response to controversial statements she had made about school shootings at Parkland and Sandy Hook, among other things.[60] She released a statement on her vote, saying in part, "As I have repeatedly criticized Ilhan Omar for her anti-Semitic comments, I had to hold Marjorie Taylor Greene accountable for her denial of the Parkland Massacre, the Flight 77 crash, and accusing a Jewish family of starting the California wildfires. From now on, I will hold every Democrat to this new standard that they have created."[61]

On May 19, 2021, Salazar joined 34 other Republicans and all Democrats in voting to approve the creation of the January 6, 2021 commission.[62]

Committee assignments[edit]

Source[63]

Caucus memberships[edit]

Political positions[edit]

Abortion[edit]

Salazar opposes taxpayer funding for abortion.[66][67]

Citizenship[edit]

Salazar joined Senator Marco Rubio in suggesting that birthright citizenship should be "reviewed", citing abuse of the law by foreign visitors to South Florida.[68] She has said she might be open to offering citizenship to some undocumented immigrants.[69]

Donald Trump[edit]

Portraying herself as a moderate Republican, Salazar said in 2018 that she wanted to do "whatever makes sense to the community"; of then-President Trump, she said: "The president has used pretty insensitive words. I will talk to him in a nice, respectful way, because I do respect the institution of the presidency."[70]

Economy[edit]

In 2021, Salazar voted against the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill.[71]

Environment[edit]

Salazar publicly supported a carbon tax proposal by then-Representative Carlos Curbelo, which many other Republicans rejected. One of Salazar's campaign commercials vowed to fight for environmental protection in Congress.[72]

Gun policy[edit]

In March 2021, Salazar was one of eight Republicans to join the House majority in passing the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021.[73] She has called herself a "firm believer in the Second Amendment" while also saying that "ways must be found to keep guns out of the reach of those who should never have them, namely children, criminals and the mentally ill". She has endorsed criminal background checks and called for "effectively closing loopholes that allow criminals to have access to firearms." Salazar said that she might also back an assault weapons ban,[69] and she supports universal background checks.[74]

Healthcare[edit]

Salazar said that she would only support repeal of the Affordable Care Act if a viable alternative were presented. She opposed repeal of the ACA's mandate that health insurers cover preexisting conditions, but called for "free market" policies on health insurance.[70]

Israel[edit]

Salazar is a supporter of Israel and was endorsed by several rabbis in Miami.[75]

LGBTQ rights[edit]

On February 25, 2021, Salazar voted against the Equality Act, a bill that would prohibit discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation by amending the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Housing Act to explicitly include new protections. Salazar said the bill "missed the mark by removing religious freedom protections."[76]

In 2021, Salazar co-sponsored the Fairness for All Act, the Republican alternative to the Equality Act.[77] The bill would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity, and protect the free exercise of religion.

Socialism[edit]

Salazar criticized President Obama's policy of engagement with Cuba, saying that she would support lifting the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba only once there is democracy in Cuba.[78] She has heavily criticized Bernie Sanders for "his honeymoon in the Soviet Union" and "his praise for Nicaragua's and Cuba's socialist regimes"[79] and has said that democratic socialism means "misery, oppression and exile".[80]

Statehood for Puerto Rico[edit]

On March 2, 2021, Salazar and Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González introduced the Puerto Rico Statehood Admission Act.[81]

Electoral history[edit]

2018[edit]

Florida's 27th congressional district election, 2018
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Donna Shalala 130,743 51.8
Republican Maria Elvira Salazar 115,588 45.8
Independent Mayra Joli 6,255 2.5
Total votes 252,586 100.0
Democratic gain from Republican

2020[edit]

Florida's 27th congressional district election, 2020
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Maria Elvira Salazar 176,141 51.4
Democratic Donna Shalala (incumbent) 166,758 48.6
Total votes 342,899 100.0
Republican gain from Democratic

Honors and awards[edit]

Salazar won five Emmy Awards for reports on Nicaragua, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic.[82] She was selected for the inaugural 2021 Forbes 50 Over 50, made up of entrepreneurs, leaders, scientists and creators who are over age 50.[83]

Books[edit]

In 2010, Grijalbo, a branch name of Random House, published her book Si Dios contigo, ¿quién contra ti? (ISBN 0307393267).[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

Salazar lives in Miami with her two daughters by her second husband, Renzo Maietto.[84][85]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Nicol, Ryan (January 19, 2021). "Maria Elvira Salazar named assistant whip for House GOP". Florida Politics. Retrieved January 20, 2021.
  2. ^ Daugherty, Alex (January 12, 2021). "Salazar votes against Trump's removal through 25th Amendment in first House vote". Miami Herald. Retrieved January 12, 2021.
  3. ^ a b Vassolo, Martin (August 28, 2018). "Salazar beats Barreiro in GOP primary in Florida's 27th congressional district". The Miami Herald. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  4. ^ a b Daugherty, Alex (November 4, 2020). "Maria Elvira Salazar defeats Donna Shalala in Florida's 27th Congressional District". Miami Herald. Retrieved November 8, 2020.
  5. ^ Valdez, Yvonne H. "Maria Elvira Salazar derrota a Donna Shalala en la carrera por el escaño en el Congreso del Distrito 27 de Miami-Dade". South Florida Sun Sentinel. Retrieved November 30, 2020.
  6. ^ "Congresswoman Maria Elvira Salazar To Discuss Her Role In Politics". The Reporter: The Student Newspaper at Miami Dade College. March 8, 2021. Retrieved March 11, 2021.
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  43. ^ Lesley Clark (October 7, 2018). "Everybody knows her name, but Donna Shalala is finding it difficult to get to Congress". McClatchy Washington Bureau.
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  45. ^ https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article233385717.html[bare URL]
  46. ^ Molina, Daniel (October 29, 2020). "Trump Endorses Maria Elvira Salazar over 'Pragmatic Socialist' Shalala". The Floridian. Retrieved November 3, 2020.
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  68. ^ Vassolo, Martin (October 31, 2018). "Miami GOP candidate Salazar says birthright citizenship should be 'reviewed'". The Miami Herald. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
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  76. ^ "Miami Republican flips vote on bill to provide protections for LGBTQ people". The Miami Herald. February 25, 2021.
  77. ^ https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/117/hr1440
  78. ^ "Latina Republican known as 'Maria Elvira' battles Donna Shalala for Fla. congressional seat". NBC News. Retrieved April 21, 2019.
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  81. ^ "SALAZAR JOINS GONZALEZ-COLON IN INTRODUCING PUERTO RICO STATEHOOD ADMISSION ACT". Office of Congresswoman Maria Elvira Salazar. March 2, 2021.
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External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 27th congressional district

2021–present
Incumbent
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by United States representatives by seniority
421st
Succeeded by