March 6 (UPI) — Donna Shalala filed campaign paperwork Monday in a bid for the U.S. House seat vacated by retiring Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida.
Shalala, who served as secretary of Health and Human Services under President Bill Clinton, is the second former Clinton official this week to announce a congressional run.
Former U.S. Rep. Mike Espy, who served as secretary of Agriculture in the Clinton administration, announced on Monday his intention to run for the U.S. Senate seat that Thad Cochran, R-Miss., will vacate on April 1.
The two announcements come as Texans vote Tuesday, kicking off a primary season that Democrats hope will set them up to take back control of Congress in November.
Shalala, 77, has never run for an elected office but her district includes most of Miami Beach, downtown Miami and coastal Miami-Dade County, areas that favor Democrats. A win would make Shalala the oldest first-time member of Congress in U.S. history.
Since stepping down last April as president of the Clinton Foundation, Shalala has taught a University of Miami political science class. Prior to her time leading the foundation, she served for 14 years as University of Miami president.
Prior to Espy serving in the Clinton administration as the first African American to hold that post, he held a seat in the U.S. House from 1987 to 1993 as the first African American representing Mississippi in Congress since the Reconstruction era.
“I just learned of the pending resignation of Sen. Cochran — a person I admire and respect, and who has done so much for Mississippi over his tenure. However, now that he has announced his pending resignation I would like to declare my strong intention to run for the United States Senate (for the Cochran seat),” Espy said in a statement Monday. “It’s been some time since I worked in Washington and I have witnessed with dismay the continuing dysfunction. I have proven that I can work with everyone as long as the goal is a better Mississippi.”