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Report: Some Republicans Want to Abandon Florida’s 27th

Ros-Lehtinen’s retirement gives Democrats a prime pickup opportunity

Republicans are struggling to find a candidate to run for the seat of retiring Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Republicans are struggling to find a candidate to run for the seat of retiring Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A lack of top-tier candidates has some Republicans considering whether to invest in holding Florida’s 27th District instead of focusing on more crucial House races.

Longtime GOP Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is retiring at the end of her term from a district that broke for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Republican officials and potential donors told the Miami Herald they are worried after their inability to recruit competitive candidates such as Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera.

“The seat is now going to go to the Democrats,” said Raquel Regalado, a Miami-Dade school board member who dropped out of the GOP race for the seat in November. “I don’t think you’re going to see a large GOP financial investment. They’re looking for a moderate candidate, but I don’t think they’re going to find one.”

One GOP member of Congress who was asked about the seat reportedly rolled his eyes, the Herald reported.

Ros-Lehtinen is insistent that Republicans should focus on holding the district, which includes Little Havana and most of downtown Miami.

“They’ve got to be all in. I will beat down their doors if they take my district and write it off,” she said.

But one of the potential candidates Ros-Lehtinen tried to court, journalist Maria Elvira Salazar, balked when asked about the race.

“I am a news reporter, not a newsmaker,” she said. 

Many of the GOP candidates in the district are considered fringe ones, such as Bettina Rodriguez Aguilera, who claimed she once flew on an alien space shuttle.

Republican Bruno Barriero has been unable to come up with the necessary cash for a competitive race, raising only $218,100 by the end of September. 

“I really don’t want to accept those rumblings out there that this is not a winnable seat,” he said. 

The National Republican Congressional Committee told the newspaper the group is committed to holding the seat and “will compete aggressively to do so.”

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the 27th District race Leans Democratic. Democrats running include state Rep. David Richardson, state Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez, former nonprofit executive Matt Haggman, Miami city Commissioner Ken Russell, lawyer Mary Barzee Flores and Miami Beach city Commissioner Kristin Rosen Gonzalez. 

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