Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, a Democrat who represented Miami for one term in the House after immigrating to the United States from Ecuador, stepped forward on Tuesday to challenge the incumbent Republican, Rick Scott, for the Senate in 2024.
Flipping the seat could be crucial for Democrats to keep their narrow majority in the Senate, but their path to victory in what was once a quintessential battleground state appears to be difficult, according to independent projections.
Ms. Mucarsel-Powell, 52, is seeking to become only the second Latina elected to the Senate, after Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, Democrat of Nevada.
In 2018, Ms. Mucarsel-Powell upset Carlos Curbelo, a two-term Republican incumbent in Florida’s 26th District. She lost the seat in 2020 to Carlos Gimenez, who was mayor of Miami-Dade County.
In a campaign introduction video posted on social media, she sought to cast Mr. Scott as a hard-line opponent of women’s reproductive rights who would seek to ban abortion nationally. She also criticized his past support for cutting Social Security and Medicare as a way to balance the federal budget and rein in the national debt. He later reversed that position.
“Ya no más,” she said in Spanish in the video, meaning “no more,” and later added, “I’ve already fought guys like Rick Scott, and beat them.”
Noting that she was the first South American immigrant elected to Congress and that she once worked for minimum wage at a doughnut shop, Ms. Mucarsel-Powell sought to draw an economic and cultural contrast to Mr. Scott.
A former associate dean at Florida International University, she is the latest prominent Democrat to join the race, which includes Alan Grayson, a former representative, and Phil Ehr, a U.S. Navy veteran who unsuccessfully challenged Representative Matt Gaetz in 2020.
Mr. Scott, 70, who is one of the wealthiest members of Congress, served two terms as governor before being elected to the Senate in 2018. Last year, he was the chairman of the Senate Republican campaign arm, but his long-shot bid to dislodge Senator Mitch McConnell as the minority leader fizzled.
“We’d like to welcome yet another failed congressional candidate to the crowded Democrat primary,” Priscilla Ivasco, a spokeswoman for Mr. Scott’s campaign, said in a statement.
Momentum in Florida has favored Republicans, who hold the governor’s office, the Legislature and both Senate seats. And in otherwise disappointing midterm elections for the G.O.P. last year, Gov. Ron DeSantis was re-elected in a landslide that laid the groundwork for his presidential candidacy.