Last month, the retirement of entrenched Rep. Ileana Ros-Lethinen (R) gave Democrats their best possible opening to flip a House seat. This district, FL-27, takes in much of southern Miami; it reaches out to include Miami Beach, and then runs down along the Biscayune Bay to include Kendall and Coral Gables:
Once reliably Republican, Ros-Lethinen’s seat in the Miami area has steadily drifted left. Last year, this trend culminated in a 20% win for Secretary Clinton:
Despite Trump’s poor showing, Ros-Lethinen won by just under 10%. Still, this was her worst margin since her initial election, and it was against an underfunded Some Dude:
One of the criticisms of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee last cycle was its arguably mediocre recruitment efforts in districts were Secretary Clinton did well (the most blatant example of this was leaving Pete Sessions unopposed in a Clinton district). Well, at least in this district, its seems candidate recruitment won’t be an issue. Yesterday, State Senator Jose Javier Rodriquez announced his candidacy.
Rodriguez was first elected to the legislature in 2012, representing a seat in the southern Miami area. The Florida State Senate map was redrawn going into the 2016 cycle, and Rodriguez ran for the redrawn Senate District 37. In one of the more closely-watched legislative races, he beat Senator Miguel Diaz de la Portilla by just over 3%:
More significantly, Senate District 37 is almost entirely contained within FL-27, meaning Rodriguez starts out this race in an incumbent-like position. FL-27 adds Miami Beach, and reaches further into the Kendall area, but the two districts are otherwise coterminous:
Here’s how the SD-37 portion of FL-27 voted in the major races last year (the green area of the above map):
This section of the district was essentially a perfect bellwether for FL-27 as a whole. It also lays out the problem Republicans have: replicating Ros-Lethinen’s personal appeal. Voters here supported Democratic candidates at both ends of the ballot, *only* crossing over to support her for Congress.
It’s easy to see this seat falling off the map of competitive races, sort of like NC-07 was considered a Safe GOP gain in 2014, after Blue Dog Mike McIntyre’s retirement. Republicans would obviously do best to run a candidate with ties to the Cuban community, such as Lieutenant Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera. Still, this seat is looking more and more like a Democratic pickup.