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Congressional District 27—A Foregone Conclusion

September 22, 2012

Running for re-election in a redrawn District 27, incumbent Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen nominally has a Democratic opponent, one Manny Yevancey.  But that’s really just a pathetic joke.

I went online to try to find out something about the challenger, and came up with virtually nothing except this in a comment on an open thread in Daily Kos I googled Manny Yevancey, BTW…And the most pertinent result was a (sadly, protected) Twitter page belonging to someone named Manny Yevancey in North Miami who described himself as a “gay male bodybuilder in shape @48”.

There’s no website and, apparently, no campaign.  Oh, well…

So when Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is re-elected, what do you get?

First of all, you get half of one of Miami’s most powerful couples.  Her husband is Miami super lawyer, Dexter Lehtinen, who was a former state legislator (first as a Democrat, but switched parties in the 80s) and former US attorney for Miami.

In today’s Republican Party, she would have to be considered a moderate on many issues.  Bill Maher puts her on his show when he wants a Republican who doesn’t sound totally batshit crazy.  She has been in the House since 1989, when she won a special election to replace the deceased liberal Democrat  Claude Pepper and became Dade County’s first Cuban-American representative in Washington.

On environmental issues, Ros-Lehtinen has, at best, a mixed record.  The League of Conservation Voters gave her a rating of only 20 percent for the current congress (which is still higher than most of her Republican colleagues), but in past congresses she has rated as high as 54 percent.   She has acknowledged that global warming is real, but voted against “cap and trade” to control greenhouse gas emissions.  She has also recently voted in favor of regulatory rollbacks and legislation that would gut the public health basis for the Clean Air Act.

On the other hand, she has been quite supportive on gay issues.  She opposed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and voted to repeal it. She opposed Florida’s “Defense of Marriage” constitutional amendment in 2008.  She cosponsored a 2009 Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and was the only Republican member of the congressional LGBT caucus.  According to the Almanac of American Politics, her daughter is now a transgender man.  There’s nothing like real personal experience to overcome ideology.

Ros-Lehtinen has also been somewhat “liberal” on immigration issues, as perhaps befits someone who came to the US at the age of 8 with her parents, who of course never had to sweat not having a visa, because they were Cuban.  She clearly recognizes the anti-immigrant measures and rhetoric by the GOP are alienating Latino voters.

But when it comes to Cuba, she’s about as hard-line as they come.  She fiercely supports maintaining the 50-year old embargo, and attacked the Obama Administration’s easing of restrictions on travel and remittances to the island.  If there is growing support in the Cuban-American community for a more flexible policy toward the Castro regime, Ros-Lehtinen definitely isn’t riding that wave.  Any time some prominent person in Miami makes a remark even vaguely positive about the Castros, she will be ready with a statement denouncing it.  She even managed to get off some snarky tweets about Diana Nyad’s attempt to swim from Cuba to Key West.

She took over the chairmanship of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in 2011 and therefore commands a lot of clout on foreign policy.  She is a leader of the “Israel-can-do-no-wrong” caucus in Congress, and introduced a bill to cut off all US funding for any UN organization that recognizes Palestinian statehood.  One of her major campaign contributors is Irving Moskovitz, who also funds militant Israeli settlements on the West Bank.

And she’s very conservative in other ways as well.  She signed Grover Norquist’s “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” promising not to vote for any tax increase ever.

There’s lots of room here for legitimate debate and opposing views on all these issues.  Too bad the voters of District 27 won’t actually get a choice.

  1. Why would #SoFlo elect a GOP Shill – when they could elect a progressive? Has Ross-Lehtinen ever faced a serious challenge? #pfla #politics #NewLeftNow #edfl

  2. David Adams permalink

    Why would you state that voters in Florida district 27 “won’t actually get a choice”?
    I am David Adams. A Republican candidate for district 27.

    • Please note that the post to which you refer was written before the 2012 election, not the most recent one.

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