Florida 27: Ros-Lehtinen Retirement Creates Vulnerable GOP Open Seat

Nathan L. Gonzales May 1, 2017 · 11:31 AM EDT

Long-time GOP Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen announced her decision to not seek re-election next year, leaving behind a difficult open seat for her party to defend.

The Florida congresswoman is one of 23 Republicans to represent districts where Hillary Clinton defeated Donald Trump in the most recent presidential election. 

Clinton won the 27th District 59-39 percent in 2016, but the Miami-Dade County seat didn’t recently turn Democratic. President Barack Obama won it 53-46 percent over Mitt Romney in 2016, according to Daily Kos Elections. 

This is the type of retirement Democrats need in order to gain 24 seats and win back the House majority next year. Even though the district leans Democratic, Ros-Lehtinen hasn’t been in serious jeopardy of losing re-election (she won by 10 points last year). But it will be difficult for a GOP candidate to immediately replicate her success.

We’re changing our rating of the Florida 27 race from Solid Republican to Lean Democratic, a dramatic change.

Despite the presidential numbers, GOP strategists aren’t giving up on the race and believe their eventual nominee will be a battle-tested candidate who can replicate Ros-Lehtinen. And, at a minimum, Republicans believe losing the Florida district can be countered by winning Minnesota’s 1st District, where DFL Tim Walz is leaving in order to run governor

We’ll have more complete analysis in upcoming May 5 issue.