Two years ago, Republican Karen Harrington lost to Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz by 22 percentage points in a liberal South Florida district.
This time around, Harrington hopes to win because of her campaigning experience, a slightly less liberal district and Wasserman Schultzs role as head of the Democratic National Committee.
It remains a hard political hill to climb for Harrington. Political pundits say Wasserman Schultz should coast to another victory.
Harrington has benefitted from the high-profile of Wasserman Schultz. She had raised about $1.3 million through September about triple her $380,000 haul in 2010. Yet, Wasserman Schultz has a bigger campaign bank account. She raised about $3.4 million.
The newly drawn 23rd Congressional District Wasserman Schultz is currently in the 20th remains mostly Democratic. About 47 percent are registered Democrats while the remainder are split between Republicans and independents, according to July state election data.
During the 2010 gubernatorial race, 61 percent of voters in the district went for Democrat Alex Sink. In 2008, Republican presidential candidate John McCain got 38 percent. The district includes much of Broward County south of Interstate 595 and some of coastal Miami-Dade, including Miami Beach.
Wasserman Schultz has been a fierce candidate on the campaign trail. After emerging victorious in a six-way primary for state House in 1992, she won her first office at the age of 26. She has pummeled opponents since first gaining a seat in Congress in 2004, winning by double-digit margins.
Some past GOP candidates who hoped to unseat her were such an embarrassment that even many Republican activists steered clear of them. In 2004, a challenger criticized Wasserman Schultz for using a peach crayon to write at a forum and said she was frazzled. (The implication was that she had too much on her plate as a mom and politician.) This year, one of the GOP primary rivals was lampooned on Comedy Centrals The Daily Show.
Asked to compare herself to her opponent, Wasserman Schultz told the Miami Herald: Im not really focused on my opponent. Im making sure I am running the same door-to-door neighborhood campaign. I always have focused on creating jobs, getting the economy turned around and protecting Medicare and Social Security.
Wasserman Schultz has drawn attention to her battle with breast cancer, close friendship with former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords who survived a mass shooting in Tucson and battles with tea party sensation U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Palm Beach Gardens. He now represents a neighboring district and has called her vile.
Being a Barack Obama surrogate has subjected Wasserman Schultz to intense national media scrutiny about her style and misstatements including her claim the week of the Democratic convention that she didnt say that the Israeli ambassador said "what the Republicans are doing is dangerous for Israel." Audio showed she did say that and her claim led to her first (and only, as of mid-October) Pants on Fire ruling by PolitiFact, the fact-checking arm of the Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times.
An e-book by POLITCO claimed that the Obama campaign questioned Wasserman Schultzs effectiveness she said it had about the same credibility as a National Enquirer story.