The Democrat in Congress who once was the GOP’s poster girl is retiring, and Democrats are very worried

If you are a Democrat, and you get this news, it’s harder to say you can be “vibrant, dynamic, and exciting” for reelection.

Case in point: Florida Democrats will have to answer tough questions when they plan for their congressional and state elections in 2022. According to a report by the nonpartisan non-partisan Sun Sentinel, the three major Democratic gubernatorial candidates for this year, Democratic Party Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, and Trinko consider themselves “tough.”

This statement, “I am the real deal,” from state Sen. Lauren Book, is particularly telling of the party’s struggle ahead. Lamenting the fact the state will have no Democratic congressional majority in 2021, she said the party is “not going to be good enough … to secure the three Republican seats they need to maintain” a lock on the U.S. House. This is especially important in Florida, where the Democratic governor in 1986 and 1992 – Lawton Chiles and Bob Graham – kept the state in the Democratic column during decades when Republicans controlled all branches of government.

Elsewhere in the Sun Sentinel report, there’s evidence of the remarkable potential of Cuban-Americans to elect a Democrat (albeit to an office that does not attract much national attention). Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the conservative GOP Cuban-American, is retiring, and in her district, even moderate Republicans fear her successor could cost them their seats.

Many believe that given the size of her district and her popularity, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., will run for her colleague’s seat when this seat comes open in 2022. The Independent Journal Review – which has been critical of Wasserman Schultz over the years, including in reporting on her spending on interns at the House Rules Committee – quotes and often questions current congressional Republicans like Rep. Jeff Denham on the impact of Ros-Lehtinen’s retirement.

So far, Ros-Lehtinen, who is 83, has not said anything about jumping into the race, but she has never run as a Democrat in her life. The two Republicans mentioned as potential candidates – though neither has filed to run for Congress – are Reps. Brian Mast and David Jolly.

In fact, this could signal that Democrats may have a harder time attracting Republicans to statewide office in 2022. But I wouldn’t bet money against the political experience of Florida Republicans – even the party’s current statewide officeholders – making themselves known to their fellow Republicans by running for federal office.

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