The upcoming Democratic primary for Florida’s 24th Congressional District pits relative political newcomer Dr. Rudolph Moise against longtime politician and current 17th Congressional District Rep. Frederica Wilson.
The 24th District – new, from the 2012 redistricting – stretches from downtown Miami through Overtown and Little Haiti all the way to Miramar. It’s roughly the same stretch that Wilson currently represents as the 17th District.
Democratic primaries in the 17th, and now 24th districts, may as well be general elections. The area has gone blue since William Lehman took it in 1983, the first race for which Florida had a 17th District.
This year’s Aug. 14 primary highlights a potential schism in the district’s broad, cultural expanse. Wilson, an African-American, was endorsed by President Barack Obama just last week. Moise, a Haitian-American, was endorsed by President Michel Martelly of Haiti.
“I’m just waiting for him to try to disparage my character that I have built with this community, holding my multiethnic community together,” Wilson told The Miami Herald editorial board. “Trying to divide us in a race between African-Americans and Haitian-Americans,” she adds, “I will not allow him to do that.”
Moise’s campaign manager, Willis Howard, denied using Martelly’s endorsement as a cultural wedge. In fact, he pointed out that his candidate has never even mentioned the endorsement in his campaign.
“[Wilson’s] the one who’s been talking about this over and over,” Howard says. “And once again it’s gotten us away from what we should be dealing with, the real problems of District 24. Unemployment is rampant in the streets.”
And jobs may be the deciding issue.
“That district has been hit especially hard by foreclosures and unemployment,” says Sean Foreman, a political professor at Barry University which is in the 24th District. “It’s one of the poorest [districts] in the state, let alone the country.”
Foreman says since Wilson has already served a term in Congress, the political and cultural battle will be an uphill one for Moise.