Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has announced she is retiring at the end of the term next year. She is the longest serving member of the Florida legislative delegation and in 1989 became the first Cuban- American elected to Congress.
She was able to defeat her Democratic challenger Scott Fuhrman, a first-time candidate, by only 10 points in November. The Miami-Herald notes that it was “her closest reelection race in years and forced her to deplete her $3.4 million campaign account.” As you would expect, she said on Sunday she wasn’t worried about 2018, but that may not be entirely true.
Ros-Lehtinen, 64, was elected last November to Florida’s redrawn 27th district, a stretch of Southeast Miami-Dade County that leans so Democratic that Hillary Clinton won it over Donald Trump by 20 percentage points. It was Clinton’s biggest margin of any Republican-held seat in the country.
She also said she’s not leaving Congress because of her differences with President Trump or with House GOP leadership, though Ros-Lehtinen has been one of the most vocal moderate Republican critics of the White House and the conservative House Freedom Caucus. Ros-Lehtinen, who said she didn’t vote for Trump last year, has disagreed with the president on deportations, transgender rights and budget cuts, and with House Republicans on healthcare.
Another moderate Republican makes an exit, and that can’t be good.