Just two weeks ago, Republican House candidate Maria Elvira Salazar publicly criticized former Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen as a member of the political elite for attending the president’s State of the Union address with Democratic Rep. Donna Shalala.
But this week, Salazar landed a glowing endorsement from Ros-Lehtinen.
In a tweet on Tuesday, Ros-Lehtinen endorsed Salazar and Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez. Salazar is running as a Republican for Ros-Lehtinen’s old House seat in the 27th District while Gimenez is running in a Republican primary in the neighboring 26th District.
“Pleased to endorse Carlos Gimenez in Cong District 26 and Maria Elvira Salazar in Cong District 27 because they will fight for the residents of South Florida all day, every day,” Ros-Lehtinen tweeted. “What a privilege to live in our great nation where every voter has an important voice at the ballot box.”
In 2018, Shalala beat Salazar by six percentage points in the contest for the House seat. Salazar is running again in 2020 with the blessing of top Washington Republicans like House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Minority Whip Steve Scalise.
“Ileana is now a lobbyist, her interests changed,” Salazar said in a radio interview two weeks ago. “They’re from the political class. People are tired of that elite.”
Salazar also said former lawmakers should never become lobbyists after Ros-Lehtinen registered as a foreign agent representing the United Arab Emirates last month.
But her tone was different on Wednesday.
“Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen is truly an icon in our community for the work she’s done for our people and the voice she provided them in Washington,” said Salazar in a statement. “She understands just how dangerous these socialist policies pushed by the radical left in Congress truly are and that silence against such an extreme agenda equals complicity. Like Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen, I will fight every day to ensure our district has a voice in Washington, a voice for freedom.”
Ros-Lehtinen, who is also a paid monthly columnist for the Miami Herald, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In response to Salazar’s criticism about the State of the Union speech invitation, Shalala said Ros-Lehtinen was a “longtime friend of mine who served with distinction in Congress for almost 30 years.” She said she invited her to the State of the Union “in the spirit of reminding our community and the nation of the importance of bipartisanship.”
Shalala is likely headed for a rematch with Salazar in November but is favored to win reelection. Shalala has $1.2 million to spend on her reelection campaign while Salazar has amassed $617,000 for her campaign, according to campaign fundraising reports. President Donald Trump lost the district by nearly 20 percentage points in 2016.