A former member of President Bill Clinton’s Cabinet who later served as director of the Clinton Foundation during the 2016 presidential campaign may be considering a run for Congress.
Donna Shalala, 76, is believed to be eyeing the U.S. House seat held by retiring Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, according to multiple reports.
Ros-Lehtinen represents Florida’s 27th Congressional District, which includes Miami Beach and Coral Gables.
Shalala, who served as president of the University of Miami for 14 years and remains there as a professor, would be entering a crowded Democratic primary field of nine other candidates.
But her ties to powerful Democrats and stature in the community would likely help her become an instant frontrunner, analysts said, even as some point to potential pitfalls in her candidacy.
Shalala is particularly connected with the Clintons, having served as U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services from 1993 to 2001. She later served for about two years as the unpaid director of the Clinton Foundation before returning to her university professorship in 2017.
The posts reportedly resulted in some tensions with the Clintons. Shalala was said to have been “furious” that Clinton lied to her about her involvement with intern Monica Lewinsky, according to the New York Post, citing multiple accounts.
And after Bill Clinton held a reportedly lavish 70th birthday party that raised questions as to who was bankrolling the festivities, Shalala publicly promised that the Clinton Foundation “will disclose the donors.”
But she was later contradicted by a Clinton Foundation spokesman, who promised only to release a legally required “donor update” after Election Day – one that did not distinguish between contributors to Clinton’s party and the foundation at large.
The recently redrawn 27th District that Shalala is reportedly targeting is increasingly Democratic, and favored Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump by nearly 20 percentage points in the 2016 election.
The signs that Shalala is serious about competing for the seat appeared to crystalize this week. One voter in the district reported being polled about Shalala’s age and how Shalala compares to other Democrats in the race, the Miami Herald reported.
The poll also reportedly asked about Shalala’s time as the president of the University of Miami, as well as the possible impeachment of Donald Trump.
The moves suggested that Shalala wanted to test the waters and see if some of the scandals from her time at the university – including one involving a prominent donor implicated in a Ponzi scheme – would affect a congressional bid, multiple reports said.
And the domain names DonnaShalala.com and Shalalaforcongress.com were recently registered, although it is unclear whether the move was directed by Shalala.