Giffords flack and former congresswoman is gunning for Rick Scott's Senate seat

Giffords flack and former congresswoman is gunning for Rick Scott's Senate seat
AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, a one-term U.S. Representative for Florida’s 26th district in Miami, has jumped into the race for U.S. Senate, running against incumbent Senator Rick Scott.  To put it politely, it’s an uphill battle for Democrats. In fact, rowing a boat in a hurricane would be easier. Mucarsel-Powell is generally unknown to Florida voters outside of her district.  This and far-left policies doomed Val Demings’ 2022 bid to unseat Senator Marco Rubio.  And Mucarsel-Powell is arguably to the left of Demings on most issues, voting with then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi almost 100% of the time. As Politico reported,


Many have viewed Florida as a battleground state for the past two decades, but it has been trending more and more Republican in recent elections. Former President Donald Trump won the state in 2020 — and Gov. Ron DeSantis won reelection by more than 19 points last year. National Democratic groups last year did not invest large amounts of money in either the governor’s race or the Senate race between former Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).

And national support would be needed for Mucarsel-Powell to stand any chance to win the seat from Senator Scott. Mucarsel-Powell lost her re-election bid in 2020 to Republican Carlos Gimenez, a former Mayor of Miami-Dade County; a once strong county for Democrats. She won in 2018 on a wave of support for Democrats in the 2018 midterms, winning against a moderate Republican that often sided with Democrats.  It’s difficult to see that national support coming in because those dollars will be critical in other Senate races where Democrats need to defend seats.

Mucarsel-Powell became well-known because of her advocacy of gun control measures. She is an advisor to and active supporter of Giffords, an organization that aims to restrict the rights enshrined in the Second Amendment. However, her alignment with Giffords and her hardline stance on gun control have generated criticism from many voters who argue that her actions and advocacy infringe upon Second Amendment rights.


Mucarsel-Powell’s focus on the siren song of gun control initiatives, universal background checks, bans on assault weapons, and support for red flag laws have met with considerable resistance. These positions encroach on civil liberties and do not effectively address the underlying issues contributing to gun violence, like out-of-control crime in Democrat-run cities.

For example, her backing of the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, was met with opposition from those who believed it would impose undue burdens on law-abiding gun owners. Additionally, critics of red flag laws, another type of legislation Mucarsel-Powell supported, contend that such laws could be easily abused, allowing for the confiscation of firearms without proper due process.

Furthermore, her alignment with Giffords has raised eyebrows. Giffords is an organization that has been accused of pushing an agenda that many Americans find controversial and polarizing. Critics claim that the group focuses too much on limiting access to firearms, rather than addressing other root causes of gun violence.

Another point of criticism has been Mucarsel-Powell’s tendency to use emotional appeal, particularly her personal story of her father’s tragic killing in Ecuador, to push for gun control. We can all mourn the loss of her father, and we can agree that violence is an issue worth solving, but Ecuador is a very different country, and solutions to violence there won’t work here. Although Ecuador has strict gun laws, they did nothing to prevent the tragic killing of her father. Emotional anecdotes should not replace comprehensive data and unbiased research when crafting policy.


It’s perhaps no surprise that Mucarsel-Powell would favor strict gun laws.  She did not grow up with the Second Amendment as a backstop against government infringement and gun laws in Ecuador are relatively strict compared to her adopted home, the United States.  Despite the recent easing of gun restrictions in Ecuador, the country does not recognize the right of the people to own firearms.  Some key aspects of gun laws in Ecuador include:

  1. Licensing Requirement: Owning a firearm in Ecuador requires obtaining a license from the Ministry of Defense. The applicant must meet certain criteria, such as being over 18 years old, having no criminal record, and undergoing psychological tests.
  2. Limit on Ownership: Private individuals are generally limited in the number and type of firearms they can own. Typically, they are restricted to owning up to two firearms, with restrictions on the types of firearms that can be owned by civilians. Allowed weapons are typically handguns (of a calibre less than 9mm), and shotguns. Fully automatic weapons, for instance, are usually restricted to military and law enforcement agencies.
  3. Background Checks: Before purchasing a gun, individuals must go through background checks that include criminal records, mental health status, and even domestic violence history.
  4. Safe Storage: Safe storage laws often require gun owners to keep firearms and ammunition in separate locked containers when not in use.
  5. Carry Permits: Concealed carry is generally not permitted without a special license, which is hard to obtain and typically only given under specific circumstances.
  6. Ownership Renewal: Licenses and registrations are not permanent and must be renewed every year, often requiring re-verification of the owner’s eligibility criteria.

None of these rules prevented her personal tragedy nor have they had a long-term impact on “gun violence” in the South American country.  Criminals, criminal enterprises like cartels, simply don’t care about gun laws.  However, isn’t it interesting that in response to rising crime and violence in Ecuador, the country is easing gun restrictions to allow Ecuadorians to defend themselves.

Despite losing her re-election bid in 2020, Mucarsel-Powell remains an activist for stringent gun control laws, doubling down on her rhetoric.  But as her defeat may indicate, her views on gun control and her alignment with groups like Giffords could be more divisive than she or her supporters are willing to admit.  Mucarsel-Powell, claims that family and friends convinced her to run.  If true, they’ve put her directly in the path of a hurricane without a paddle.


Disclosure: Rick Scott was Governor of Florida at the time of Hurricane Irma, where we first met while doing hurricane cleanup.  He was also Governor at the time of the attack on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, after which I worked closely with him to improve school safety in Florida.  In 2018, Governor Scott appointed me to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Commission.  I consider Rick Scott a personal friend and I may personally donate to his re-election campaign for U.S. Senate.


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