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Annette Taddeo speaks during her campaign for Congress on August 14, 2022, in Miami Springs, Florida.

Florida state Sen. Annette Taddeo, mounting her third bid for Congress, is convinced that she is uniquely capable of defeating her Republican rival, freshman Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL), in Florida’s newly drawn 27th District, which covers a sizable portion of Miami-Dade County. Even as the updated House map gives Republicans an edge in November, Taddeo argues that her personal story and no-nonsense demeanor — not to mention a recent track record of performing well in red-leaning territory — will help fuel an upset. “I’m known for being very straightforward, no BS and trustworthy,” Taddeo told Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel, emphasizing that she has never hesitated to buck party lines while in office.

Keeping the faith: Taddeo, who was raised Catholic, began to question her faith at age 12. “There were a lot of contradictions between one part of the Bible and another part of the Bible,” she recalled. “My dad said to me, ‘Well, go see the priest and ask him those questions.’” His suggestion, however, proved less productive than Taddeo had hoped. “The priest says, ‘Oh, honey, you’re not supposed to read the Bible. That’s for us to read and for us to tell you what it means.’” Her father’s response, by contrast, was far more encouraging. “He just said, ‘You keep reading whatever you want to read and you keep asking questions of whatever you want to ask,’” Taddeo explained. So began a yearslong process of religious discovery that would culminate in Taddeo’s conversion to Judaism about a decade later. “It was all women in the class, but I was the only woman without a fiancé,” Taddeo recalled, chuckling proudly at the memory. “The more I learned, the more I realized that this is who I was, this is where I felt at home and this is what I truly believed.”

Middle East views: Taddeo said she does “not profess to be an expert” on Middle East affairs “by any means,” but nevertheless hopes to serve as a bulwark against some Democrats in the House who have grown more critical of Israel in recent years. “I do see, as part of my responsibility, not allowing our party to go too far, like the Republican Party has gone on so many issues that are completely unacceptable,” she told JI. “I do believe that part of my role there is going to be making sure that we have that voice and have someone that understands the needs of our community and the desire for our community to support Israel and Israel’s right to defend itself against.” The Jewish Democratic Council of America seems to appreciate Taddeo’s approach. Its political arm will announce on Wednesday that it is endorsing her House campaign, the group confirmed to JI. “Annette is known as a fighter,” said Ron Klein, a former Florida congressman who chairs the JDCA. “She’s a Jewish Latina woman who, I think, can follow in [former Rep.] Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s footsteps.”

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