Voices & Choices

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen Announces Her Retirement

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen Announces Her Retirement

On May 1st, Republican Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the first Cuban-American and first Latina woman elected to Congress, announced that she will retire at the end of her term. Rep. Ros-Lehtinen represents Florida's 27th District, the most partisan Democratic district represented by a Republican.

Rep. Ros-Lehtinen is a "cross-over representative," a Member of Congress from one of the two major parties representing a district that generally favors the other. As a Republican running in a Democratic district, she demonstrated that she was responsive to constituents who favored Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton won her district by about 20 points when she defeated her Democratic opponent in 2016.

Cross-over representatives tend to have more moderate and less partisan voting patterns than other Members of Congress, and Ros-Lehtinen was no exception. An outspoken critic of President Trump, she has so far voted less in line with the President's position than all but one other Republican in the House. 

Already, many are predicting that a Democrat will win her seat in 2018. That would be in line with the recent historical trends, that consistently show more and more partisan voting in congressional races. As we reported shortly after the 2016 election, cross-over representatives are disappearing. In 1993, there were 113 cross-over representatives. Today there are 30. Outside of the "swing" districts between 47-53% for either party, there are only 13.

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