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Democratic Challenger Mucarsel-Powell Defeats Incumbent Curbelo To Take Dist. 26 Seat

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) - Democratic challenger Debbie Mucarsel-Powell defeated Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo in Tuesday's General Election to take District 26.

Millions were poured into Mucarsel-Powell's campaign in an attempt to unseat Curbelo.

It's estimated that nearly $20 million were spent on this race by the two sides, most of which has gone towards political TV ads.

Money Mucarsel-Powell says hasn't fallen on deaf ears.

"There's definitely a feeling of hope that we can actually get our country and put it back on track," she said. "It's very exciting. I get a lot of good energy right now."

Mucarsel-Powell has been campaigning to the last minute, bouncing around on Election Day from voting site to voting site.

"I have full confidence that my community knows what's at stake in this election and they're going to come out to lift their voices up to bring about change," said Mucarsel-Powell.

She's been running on gun reform and the environment but her main point of focus has been on health care and the affordable care act. Something Curbelo votes against.

"I saw that Congress was doing nothing, but worse than that, they were making it more difficult for the families in my community to make it, [so] I decided to run," she said. "When Carlos Curbelo took great vote to threaten to take away health care from more than 100,000 families in this community I knew I had to step in."

Florida's 26th congressional district contains all of Monroe County and a portion of Southwest Miami-Dade County.

Curbelo, a Cuban American, was first elected to the House in 2014.

Curbelo was re-elected in 2016 by 12 points, but Hillary Clinton won the district in the presidential race by 16 points.

Curbelo has opposed President Donald Trump since the 2016 campaign and initially backed Jeb Bush. He has called the accumulation of Trump-related scandals a "sad chapter in our country's politics," according to the New York Times.

Curbelo has consistently voted with Democrats on legislation aimed at protecting so-called DREAMers. He has a history of conservative tendencies on fiscal issues and taxes.

On the issue of health care, Curbelo voted to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Mucarsel-Powell, who came to America from Ecuador as a teen, says she was inspired to run for Congress when Curbelo voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act. She won the primary election with 64 percent of the vote.

Mucarsel-Powell, a former associate dean at Florida International University, has campaigned on policy proposals on gun control, health care, and environmental protection.

Mucarsel-Powell has pledged to take swift action on immigration reform and push back against Trump's hardline stance on the issue.

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