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Republicans Reportedly Giving Up on Florida 27; This Is a Mistake

Republicans Reportedly Giving Up on Florida 27; This Is a Mistake

Handing over the Cuban-American South Florida stronghold will signify surrender of a key GOP voting bloc

As we look toward the 2018 midterms, it’s interesting to note that the GOP has reportedly given up on Florida’s 27th District. 

The district is in the Miami-Dade area and is largely Cuban-American, including as it does “Little Havana.”  Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R) has served this area when it was the 18th and now that it’s the 27th since 1989.

Though often hailed as the first Cuban-American elected to Congress, Ros-Lehtinen was also the first Latina elected to Congress (facts the GOP fails to note when attacked as racist and xenophobic). She is a moderate and a member of the Republican Main Street Partnership who signed a letter urging Congress to pass DACA by the end of last year.  A staunch supporter of Israel, she’s kept her distance from President Trump.

In April of last year, she announced that she would not be seeking reelection.  Republicans, or at least some of them, now see her seat as unwinnable by the GOP and are ready to pass on it in favor of sinking support into districts perceived as more winnable.

The Miami Herald reports:

The GOP’s inability to find top-shelf candidates to run for Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s U.S. House seat has some Republicans ready to write off the race and shift money and attention to more winnable contests.

The seat that encompasses Little Havana, most of downtown Miami and Miami Beach is now considered unwinnable by some Republicans in Congress and fundraisers who could infuse millions into a competitive congressional race, according to interviews with high-ranking GOP officials and potential donors. Others are slightly more hopeful but caution that a Republican path to victory is narrow, especially in an environment where President Donald Trump’s approval ratings remain low and Republicans brace for a potential Democratic wave in 2018.

Keeping Ros-Lehtinen’s seat was always going to be a challenge for Republicans after the longtime Miami congresswoman announced her retirement in May. Republicans couldn’t draw top-tier recruits, such as Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos López-Cantera; one announced candidate made national news for claiming to have boarded a spaceship with aliens; fundraising has lagged; and one of the top GOP candidates recently left the race.

The concern for drawing a top-tier recruit is interesting.  Apart from the alien spaceship-boarding candidate, pretty much any Cuban-American Republican can win this seat.  Ros-Lehtinen herself doesn’t want to see it lost to a Democrat.

The Miami-Herald continues:

“The seat is now going to go to the Democrats,” said Raquel Regalado, a former Miami-Dade school board member and candidate for Miami-Dade mayor who recently announced she was dropping out of the Republican race to replace Ros-Lehtinen. “I think I was the only moderate who could have fought that fight for a bunch of different reasons. 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.”

Ros-Lehtinen, a political veteran who knows the Miami scene well, is doing her part to keep the seat in Republican hands.

“They have to spend in my district. I don’t want national groups to think it’s not winnable,” she said. “They’ve got to be all in. I will beat down their doors if they take my district and write it off.”

Ros-Lehtinen is talking to any Republican who might be willing to step up. She personally met with Spanish-language TV journalist Maria Elvira Salazar at a Cuban restaurant in South Miami in an effort to drum up more competition in the primary.

“The district is totally winnable for the right candidate,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “She could be the right candidate.”

The outlook according to those in the know is grim for keeping Florida’s 27th in Republican hands.

The national prognosticators rate Ros-Lehtinen’s district as the hardest GOP-held seat to keep in 2018. It’s the only seat held by a Republican rated as “lean Democratic,” while about a dozen other GOP-held seats like Curbelo’s are rated as “toss-ups.” Republicans currently have a 46-seat House majority, so they can afford nearly two dozen losses in 2018 and still maintain control of the lower chamber.

And then there’s also the issue of any Republican in the district being tied to Trump, whose habit of politicking on social media at all hours causes Republicans to constantly scramble in reaction.

“Washington is in a sort of paralysis,” Regalado said. “When you’re talking to people about serious issues, they’re checking their Twitter feed. That’s the new normal.”

President Trump, however, is not the only nor perhaps even the most significant factor in this district or in Florida’s Cuban-American voting trends in general.

Cuban-Americans have historically been conservative and supported Republicans, and that was also of the case in 2016. Slightly more than half of Florida’s Cuban community voted for Trump (between 52 and 54% according to Pew) to Hillary’s 41%.

In 2012, Romney pulled the Florida Cuban-American vote with 52% to Obama’s 48%. Some are saying that Obama’s Cuba policy is why Hillary did so much worse than Obama, and that may have played a role.  However, Cuban-Americans are like everyone else who leans right and probably didn’t like her for a lot of reasons beyond her outspoken support for lifting the embargo on Cuba.

It’s worth noting here, that President Bush (43) won 75% of Florida’s Cuban-American vote in 2000 and 78% in 2004.

This huge shift between 2000 / 2004 and 2012 / 2016 makes predicting races like Florida’s 27th difficult because there is more going on here than Trump or Cuba. Older anti-communist Cubans are dying off, and K-12 education ensures a steady diet of progressive politics and culture. This seeps into Cuban-American communities just as it does in any other.

One thing is certain, the Cuban-American vote is waning, and has been before Trump, for Republicans and cannot be counted on as it once was.  That said, this seat should not be written off because it is winnable, but the GOP powers that be (quite understandably) don’t want to sink a lot of money into it with Trump’s numbers being so low and the vote far less than certain.

They need a strong conservative in that district, one who is Cuban-American and who can walk the line between Trumpophile and Trumpophobe. Ultimately, this is a very complex issue that involves far far more than Trump and that isn’t really measurable or predictable.

What is predictable, however, is that an easy Democrat win in this district will result in long-term harm for the GOP in terms of the Cuban-American vote.  Effectively handing off a solid GOP seat, held since 1989, to the Democrats in a district that includes “Little Havana” would be a massive mistake with lasting repercussions.


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No one is allowed to give the RNC any advice. After all, they are on a long losing streak and they do not want to be disturbed.

    casualobserver in reply to inspectorudy. | January 2, 2018 at 8:19 pm

    The biggest challenge for the GOP is the party doesn’t have tyrannical rules to keep every candidate on script and in lockstep. Lately the party has drifted maybe too far into diversity (of candidates). But I still think that could work to their advantage in districts where there are conservative or libertarian tendencies. You just have to find a non-toxic candidate. The division trying to force diversity failed to do that in Alabama. The result was the worst candidate possible even before the allegations broke.

    carabec in reply to inspectorudy. | January 3, 2018 at 8:50 am

    If you are a Republican you are one in the Party (GOPe) that has forgotten how the White House was won! Do NOT surrender FIGHT!

Strange anslysis by Fuzzy. Trump won the district and he has had a good year but a Trump-o-phile Republican candidate can’t win?

It is wrong to say that Trump’s approval numbers are low. They are quite high, given the endless river of ridiculously biased anti-Trump reporting.

Just get an actual conservative on the ticket please.

    Yes, those people may be Americans of Cuban ancestry. There are a lot of people with a foreign heritage but are Americans along with neighbors, friends, and coworkers first.

      artichoke in reply to n.n. | January 3, 2018 at 12:38 pm

      The Cuban ancestry makes them even more anti-Dem. They hate communism, they lost everything to the communist in Cuba.

      Mariel boatlift criminals excluded.

      I actually wasn’t aware that Ros-Lehtinen was Republican. She seemed pretty close with Hillary, or at least Hillary was with her.

    Trump won the district, no doubt, but like Romney, he won it by far less than Bush in 2000 and 2004. This matters a great deal. A GOP candidate going from 75-78% to a bare majority at 52-54% matters. Unless you think a double-digit loss in GOP support doesn’t mater somehow?

    Personally, I agree that a real conservative Republican could do well in FL27; however, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, is not a conservative and has held that district(ish) since 1989. She’s a moderate who supports amnesty and gay “marriage.” The idea being that her moderate stance would need to be replicated in a high-profile successor.

      That’s some clear thinking Fuzzy!

      tom_swift in reply to Fuzzy Slippers. | January 3, 2018 at 1:35 am

      Unless you think a double-digit loss in GOP support doesn’t mater somehow?

      It doesn’t. All that counts is who wins the election. Win it by a lot or win it by a little, it doesn’t matter. One candidate is elected, the other isn’t. There’s no in-between state.

      If a candidate wins by a lot his party will talk about “mandates” but that has no legal or practical meaning.

      It would also mean that his party probably sank too many resources into that election—resources which could be more usefully exerted elsewhere.

    Oh,and to address your point about Trump’s numbers being low; they are. We may not like it; I certainly don’t, but they are low. Historically low for the first year of a first-term president. Freaking Jimmy Carter had better numbers at this time in his presidency. Reagan, Bush (41 and 43), and Obama blow Trump’s numbers out of the water.

    I get the desire to imagine that Trump’s support is greater than it is. After all, I once thought that about the TEA Party, the “silent majority,” and the bazillions of Americans whom I imagined shared my love of our Constitutional republic, but you know what happened? I was wrong. Dead wrong.

    Here’s some truth: Trump is NOT popular; indeed, while he’s not lost much (about a percentage point) of his base support, he’s bleeding indies and Hillary’s “blue wall” voters faster than a hemophiliac on blood thinners. That’s just fact.

    Ignore it, invent narratives about “fake” poll numbers and “fake news” all you want, but you know what talks? Virginia talks. Alabama talks. There is no way that the Trump majority you imagine exists would have let Trump lose in VA or GA. And yet.

    In Alabama, a truly stunning loss given that a Republican has sat in the Senate seat since before we all had home computers and internet. A select few of us were still listening to dial-ups’ shrill song back then. The Trump supporters of the world failed to unite.

    This is fact. Denial of it is myopic at best. After all displacement of blame to the GOP establishment (McConnell and Ryan being the main targets, with Sessions running a close second) ultimately castrates Trump.

    He’s THE solution, the new savior of the America we all love, but he can’t win elections, and he can’t control Ryan and McConnell? They, then, must be more wily, more savvy, more effective than Trump.

    According to the pro-Trump crowd, Trump’s enemies are smarter and more capable than their savior. How does that work exactly? The all-powerful, super-intelligent, mega-deal-maker of the world is tumbled by a snot-nosed Representative from the cheese state and a doddering old fool from Kentucky?

    Uh huh.

      (I gave you an up arrow by mistake.)

      You’re very wrong on this one. You have to contextualize the times: Given the unprecedented corruption in our government, as well as the media, Trumps ‘low’ratings would be record breaking in other times.

      As for that piece of sh-t mcconnell, he’s infested the senate for 33 years, and OK is stuck with him till 2022, unless he drops dead beforehand. Given his 18 percent approval rating in his own state, few would care.

      Trump came from nowhere – alone. And he wasted the GOPe. He’s still wasting them, using death by a thousand tweets.

      We live in our own version of iran, bit the tyranny is was harder to see. Fortunately, the forces against us believed in the delusions they created of hillary klinton and obama. Sadly, so did the likes of mcconnell and ryan, and they sold us out to keep their perks.(Lets not forget that corrupt drunk, boehner.)

      Trump wins when he is Trump, just like Reagan.

      We have to wake up the part of the nation who does not how rigged the game has been, and how we have been sold out by everyone we’ve voted for, and every news show we’ve watched.

      Until Swamp Sessions (yes, he’s a giant part of the swamp) is replaced by an AG who will buck the corrupt rats still pulling the levers to control us and take klinton and her ilk on perp walks, the rage against the scum of the GOPe will continue for selling us and our country out to the likes of obama, klinton, soros, etc

      The firesale of our freedom and way of life is over, along with it the tolerance of the two tier justice systems of that slimeball eric holder, and now Swamp Sessions.

      Let Trump be Trump,and stand by him like the future of our nation depends upon it.

        Fine, I guess we have to differ on this. What I see happening is similar to the post-hype-and-change effect that infected Obama. He disappointed everyone because the magic with which his supporters imbued him was impotent. He maintained high popularity, but his policies did not. No one thought we were heading in the right direction (the right thought we were going too far left, and the left thought–inexplicably–we were going too far right.).

        This is the problem with human saviors. They never measure up, and that includes Trump. We were promised that his finesse, his deal-making, his whatever savior magic would enable him to drain the swamp while twirling Congress around his little finger. Expectations were high for Trump, as they were for Obama, and while I am to my toes thrilled that Hillary is not president, I can’t look at this and not see that Trump is not measuring up.

        You agree.

        What we disagree on is the “why” he’s not measuring up. You blame McConnell, Ryan, and Sessions, and that’s just silly. We voted for Trump knowing that McConnell and Ryan were safely ensconced in their respective Congressional leadership positions. If they’re beating him, and they are, doesn’t that suggest that the premise upon which we voted for Trump was faulty?

        We thought he could handle them, but it turns out they are handling him.

        To my mind, that puts a feather in McConnell’s and Ryan’s caps. When does the master deal-maker Trump emerge? I want him to, I really truly do, but so far, you’re blaming factors we knew were in place for Trump’s failure. If you thought McConnell and Ryan were all-powerful, why even support Trump who has no political experience? If you thought Trump could handle them, and it’s clear that he cannot, why are you blaming McConnell and Ryan?

        Seriously, this makes no sense to me.

        So we blame them? Really? That makes sense to you?

      tom_swift in reply to Fuzzy Slippers. | January 3, 2018 at 1:50 am

      Virginia talks. Alabama talks.

      Trump wasn’t a candidate in either of those states.

      We have an unusual situation, with essentially three parties—the Democrats, the Republicans, and Trump. Trump is not the same thing as the Republicans, and is actually only tenuously allied with them. A vote for Trump is not a vote for the Republicans. The parties and the analysts have yet to figure out what that means.

      A factor which those other Presidents did not encounter is an utterly hostile MSM. Within the past month the percentage of negative coverage Trump received was 93% (I no longer recollect the time period, obviously 2017). No other modern President has had such a hugely negative press. Even Woodward and Bernstein came out the other day complaining about the press hostility to Trump, and they sure aren’t Republicans and I’m willing to bet neither one voted for Trump (and I don’t gamble). The MSM knows they still can sway public opinion and they are doing their damndest to make sure the public view of Trump is as bad as possible. And they haven’t passed by prevaricating in order to make stories about Trump worse (or even flat out telling lies which they walk back a day or two later when the story is out there and they know the correction will go unnoticed by most people.

      So yeah, his numbers are terrible. And they are real in the sense that a gullible public does exactly what the MSM, and its political arm – the DNC, wants them to do.

      As someone has stated: The Republic can survive a Barack Obama as President. The Republic can’t survive long with an electorate which elects a Barack Obama.

        Edward in reply to Edward. | January 3, 2018 at 9:30 am

        “Within the past month the percentage of negative coverage Trump received was 93%…”

        That should have stated that within the past month the percentage was announced, not that the coverage was last month.

      artichoke in reply to Fuzzy Slippers. | January 3, 2018 at 12:45 pm

      Alabama was a shock, but it could have been won if the Republican party had given Moore the money to fight on TV, and also to police the voting better. McConnell cut Moore off, which was disgusting, I guess it was to protect himself. I’d say McConnell must go, but I don’t have a better alternative to propose.

Republicans don’t traditionally fare well in mixed nationality districts (e.g. “Cuban-American”).

casualobserver | January 2, 2018 at 8:08 pm

If a good GOP candidate hasn’t surfaced by January of the election year, it’s too late, isn’t it?

    Yeah, it’s not good, casualobserver. But it’s not inconceivable that Ros-Lehtinen sees the lack of support in her district and changes her mind. Failing that, toss in any Republican who hasn’t recently communed with aliens from another planet, and s/he’s going to win.

    The GOP seems to be intent on making an historic mistake in this district, though, so . . . .

      casualobserver in reply to Fuzzy Slippers. | January 2, 2018 at 9:50 pm

      If the Dems are really intent on flipping it I wouldn’t wish it on an enemy to run there. There might be plenty of outside money to dredge up all kinds of false or partially exaggerated claims to paint the candidate as racist or misogynist. Those are the categories they run on primarily.

      Just asking: when has the GOPe NOT made an historic mistake?
      No one is that incompetent – not even traitors obama and clinton.

      Their ‘mistakes’ have been calculated attacks against the very people who vote for them.

        There have been documented instances when the GOPe has attacked the base (particularly McConnell’s intervention in MS, asking Democrats to enter the open Primary to defeat the favored Republican candidate).

        That being said, most often it is because the GOP deserves the nickname earned over several decades – The Stupid Party. It usually is that they are that dense and that they spent so many decades in the minority that many are political “dhimmis”, comfortable with being the minority.

        And what’s not to like about being in the minority? You earn the same amount as those in the majority (except for the leadership of House and Senate who also get bigger offices), you don’t have to work all that hard (particularly if you aren’t expected to get bills passed), and you are still a member of the “club”. Thankfully all Republicans aren’t on board with that, but I often suspect there are more than we know who are or at least lean that way.

Subotai Bahadur | January 2, 2018 at 11:07 pm

The first goal of the Republican Party is to deliberately break all their promises to their voters and make sure that no Democrat programs are touched. The second goal of the Republican Party is to lose one or the other of the Houses of Congress [or both], so they can not be pressured to fight the Democrats on anything. The way the field is, it would be almost impossible for them to lose the Senate. So they are trying to lose the House.

They think that if they can go back to their dream years under Obama, that the graft will still flow and we will all become loyal serfs again. Not bloody likely.

Paul In Sweden | January 2, 2018 at 11:34 pm

I was very critical of Reince Priebus and I was shocked when Trump put him in the administration. Since then I learned of the groundwork that Reince Priebus led for the GOP. I was very surprised and impressed. I do not know who they(GOP) have heading the operation now but I really hope they can muster for the mid-terms.

    Prebus did do a good job at first, but like karl rove, he rose to his level of incompetence – and thankfully, rather quickly (unlike rove, whose continuing presence and incompetence was a major factor in an islamofascist traitor being later snuck into the white house.)

      I read that Rove was the force behind Bush’s statesman like turning the other cheek and not responding to the multiple attacks on his administration.

    If you’re asking who heads the RNC after Reince, then that would be Ronna McDaniel, former Michigan GOP Chair, and niece of Mitt Romney.

The allegedly Republican Cubans in Florida’s Senate keep killing every pro-gun bill that passes their desk. They might be Republicans, but they’re no friend of conservatives, and I would bet the same is true of Ros-Lehtinen and anybody who replaces her. The Cuban voting bloc is just as infected by progressivism as every other Hispanic voting bloc in the US.

As much as I hate to, I have to agree with the GOP on the winnability of Fl-27.

There is a big mistake that many people make. That is the application of traditional down ballot voting from a Presidential win. In the past, people viewed political contests as being Republican v Democrat. And, it was assumed that voters registered to a specific party would most likely vote for the candidate representing their party. But, this is no longer the case. With the growth of independent voters, as well as the disaffected Republican voters, it is becoming difficult to predict how any contest will turn out. Add to that the attempts of the Republican party to install Establishment candidates and the Republican vote is split.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is a unique candidate, for this district. She is a moderate and is identifiable by both the older Cuban-American community and the older Jewish community. It will be difficult to find a candidate, today, who can appeal to both demographics, at the same time. But, the district itself is becoming more liberal. As the older, more conservative voters die off, they are being replaced with a younger, more liberal urban demographic. Personally, I would give the GOP no more than even odds on retaining this district no matter what it does. Does this mean that the GOP should write the district off? No. But, how much funding and effort they put into the effort will largely depend upon who they can find for a candidate.

“she announced that she would not be seeking reelection”
TRANSLATION: I am an Establishment Republican and I see that since Trump did so well in my district, now would be a good time to take my campaign funds and do something else.

David Breznick | January 3, 2018 at 5:35 pm

This is my district. I was thinking about running, but I am a monoglot so . . . . ..