Now there are two. Scott Fuhrman was the first to announce his intention. And this week Miami Beach Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez also informed that in 2018 she plans to challenge south Florida’s longtime member of congress from District 27, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
Although still very early, Trump’s performance as president, to date, is making things very difficult for Republicans next year. Many Democrats around the country, like Fuhrman and Rosen Gonzalez, are lining up backers and searching out the early money in hopes of turning back the Trump revolution — which has been shown to be more talk than action. The new president’s actions, in fact, have usually been ones taken contrary to what the candidate promised while on the campaign trail last year.
As for Ros-Lehtinen, she has been relatively quiet. She won reelection only five months ago.
It will soon be three decades since Ros-Lehtinen first went to Washington. During these almost 30 years she has developed contacts, and the know-how to keep her seat on Capitol Hill. Smarter politically than both the Diaz-Balart brothers, people tell me that she treats her constituency well. She also has a keen nose and feel for where the wind is blowing in her district. She demonstrated that recently by opposing the Republicans’ ‘TrumpDoesn’tCare’ health insurance plan which would have overturned Obamacare. Ros-Lehtinen’s district has a large number of persons who are signed up for the Affordable Care Act.
The numbers in District 27 seem to favor a Democratic Party candidate. On election day last year, there were 142,777 Democrats in her district compared to 131,195 Republicans. Of course, the determining factor were the 118,903 voters signed up under No Party Affiliation (NPA). For the sake of comparison, in the 2012 general election, there were 127,972 Republican voters and 127,842 Democrats. Four years ago there were 95,598 NPA voters.
It is therefore no wonder that Ros-Lehtinen had her toughest reelection fight last year when she beat Fuhrman by a 54.9% to 45.1% margin to retain her seat.
No matter the numbers, it’s an uphill battle for whomever wants to challenge Ros-Lehtinen. She will be hard to beat. And surely it was a tough race against Fuhrman, but she still beat him in a district where Hillary Clinton beat Trump by 20 percentage points.
And yet… Fuhrman came closer than most thought possible. He also demonstrated a capacity to raise money — imperative in today’s political world, especially congressional races where millions of dollars are spent in competitive races. And the Trump presidency may end up sinking many Republicans during this upcoming midterm election.
Then there’s the newcomer, Rosen Gonzalez. This young woman is a Miami Dade College professor and a single mother of three children.
Rosen Gonzalez was first elected to the Miami Beach city commission in 2015 and has been a consistent voice of opposition to the mayor, Philip Levine, who has tried to impose his political will through the use of a number of rubber stamp voters on the commission. With much less money than her opponent(s), Rosen Gonzalez ran an unlikely people-to-people and walking campaign that led to her victory.
In a quote that appeared in the Miami Herald, Rosen Gonzalez said of Ros-Lehtinen, “We deserve a member of congress who will hold President Trump accountable. Instead of the President’s lapdog, I’ll be a watchdog who stands up for science against climate change deniers, stands up for immigrants against persecution, and fights back against partisan attacks on women’s health care.”
Of special interest to us, Rosen Gonzalez voted against a Cuban consular office in Miami Beach in 2016. I am not sure of any differences she might have with Ros-Lehtinen when it comes to Cuba.
Whatever the case, it looks like it may shape out to be an interesting political 2018 in Miami.
On another front, I would suggest that Carlos Curbelo keep checking his back. I’ve heard that there is at least one person — well-known and with money behind him/her — ready to challenge him. And it is NOT Joe Garcia!
In her Naked Politics blog, the Herald’s Patricia Mazzei writes that “Democrats consider the 26th district [Curbelo’s] a top target, given that Hillary Clinton won there by 16 percentage points.”
Regarding the Hillary win in the district, Mazzei adds, “Curbelo comfortably held on to his seat with a 12-point margin over challenger Joe Garcia.”
[Photo at top is of Rosen Gonzalez and to her right Fuhrman.]