Tags: Florida | Ros-Lehtinen | Rubio | Murphy

Florida's Rep. Ros-Lehtinen Bows Out

Image: Florida's Rep. Ros-Lehtinen Bows Out
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen at a news conference in Miami. (AP)

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Monday, 01 May 2017 09:19 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Republicans were left speechless on Sunday afternoon, following Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s unexpected announcement that she would not seek re-election in 2018.

Why the 14-term lawmaker and former chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee is calling it quits was the big question. Was it, they wondered, because Ros-Lehtinen was increasingly taking non-conservative positions and thus uncomfortable with a conservative Republican Party?

Or was it, others speculated, because the Miami-based 27th District that Ros-Lehtinen first won back in 1990 was becoming more difficult for Republicans to hold?

For now, the reasons behind the retirement of the first Cuban-American member of Congress are shrouded in mystery — especially since Ros-Lehtinen held a fundraising event a few weeks ago.

The daughter of an underground leader against the Castro regime, Ros-Lehtinen was considered a conservative when she won the seat in a special election following the death of the late Rep. Claude Pepper, D-Fla. She is a strong pro-lifer and vigorously fought the Obama administration over détente with Cuba.

But in recent years, she has broken with her party on some major issues: the Florida lawmaker generally supports the gay agenda and is a vigorous opponent on efforts to curb illegal immigration.

Ros-Lehtinen pointedly refused to endorse Donald Trump in 2016. After years of opposing the Affordable Care Act and voting for its repeal several times, the Sunshine State lawmaker most recently said she does not want any of the controversial measure repealed.

“Ileana is isolated from [Speaker] Paul Ryan and the House Republican leadership and has no relationship at all with the Trump White House,” observed one former congressional staffer who requested anonymity. “It really didn’t make sense for her to stay [in Congress].”

Last year, Ros-Lehtinen won re-election by an unimpressive 55 to 45 percent over Democrat Scott Fuhrman. The 27th District was also site of the best performance by Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump (58 to 38 percent) in any district with a Republican U.S. representative.

Local sources say Fuhrman would like a shot at the open seat after performing so well against Ros-Lehtinen last time. But early signs are the local Democratic organization will line up behind former Miami-Dade Democratic Chairman Annette Taddeo, who drew 42 percent of the vote against Ros-Lehtinen in 2008.

Taddeo ran for three other offices since and lost every race.

Among Republicans, the most oft-mentioned name at this time is that of Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez Cantera. A close friend of Sen. Marco Rubio’s, Cantera was running for Rubio’s seat last year when the senator was running for president but dropped out after Rubio decided to seek re-election after all.

Also mentioned for the Republican nomination is State Rep. Jose Felix Diaz who, like Lopez Cantera, is considered a strong conservative.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

© 2017 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

 
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Republicans were left speechless on Sunday afternoon, following Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s unexpected announcement that she would not seek re-election in 2018.
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2017-19-01
Monday, 01 May 2017 09:19 AM
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