US House race to watch: Lois Frankel vs Laura Loomer

Florida’s 21st congressional district election pits veteran incumbent against a young controversial far-right activist.

Loomer is attempting to become the youngest member of Congress [File: Linah Alsaafin/Al Jazeera]
Loomer is attempting to become the youngest member of Congress [File: Linah Alsaafin/Al Jazeera]

Democratic congresswoman Lois Frankel is seeking to extend her term in Florida’s 21st congressional district and secure a fifth stint in the House of Representatives.

Florida’s 21st district is where US President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort is located.

In the 2018 general elections, Frankel won without any opposition.

The candidates

Five candidates, including two write-ins, are in the running this year.

Veteran politician Frankel faces a young controversial Republican challenger, Laura Loomer.

Independent candidate Charleston Malkemus, GOP write-in Piotr Blass and Sylvia Caravetta, an independent write-in, are also on the ballot.

Frankel is in her eighth year in Congress [File: Andrew Harnik/AP]

Their backgrounds

The 72-year-old incumbent Frankel was first elected to Congress in 2012 and has been a political fixture for decades in Palm Beach County. She is a former mayor of West Palm Beach.

Laura Loomer, 27, is a Jewish American journalist and far-right activist with no prior experience in politics. If elected, she will become the youngest person in Congress.

Loomer is a self-proclaimed “proud Islamophobe”, who has been banned from several major social media platforms and ridesharing apps because of her racist and anti-Muslim speech.

She previously worked undercover for Project Veritas, a far-right organisation known for targeting leftists and anti-fascists.

Loomer has been banned from social media sites because of her racist and anti-Muslim speech [File: Kathy Willens/AP]

Issues

As a state legislator, Frankel, who is also Jewish, has strongly advocated for women’s issues, including equal pay, education and abortion rights.

She has called for a reform of Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, which Republicans are pushing to repeal and replace.

“When it comes to the ACA, we need to mend it, not end it,” it says on her website.

Under the slogan of “America First”, Loomer has openly taken an anti-Muslim stance in her campaign.

In a video on her website, titled make America safe again, she criticised Democrats Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, the first two Muslim women to be elected to Congress in 2018.

She has also called out big technology companies for censorship on their platforms.

“Tech companies have used censorship not only as a way to silence those who they disagree with politically but also as a way to incite violence against conservatives,” Loomer said.

Outlook

This congressional district is heavily Democratic and several non-partisan election analysts have rated this race as a “safe seat” or “non-competitive”, meaning Frankel is expected to win by a large margin.

In 2018, Frankel ran for re-election unopposed and in 2016 she defeated her Republican opponent by 27.6 percentage points.

In the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton won this district over Donald Trump by 19.5 percentage points.

Source : Al Jazeera and News agencies

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