In the year of Donald Trump, no Republican may be safe — not even the dean of Miami-Dade County’s congressional delegation. U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen on Friday will draw a Democratic challenger, the first serious candidate to launch a campaign against her in eight years.
Scott Fuhrman, a political newcomer and third-generation fruit-juice bottler, has national Democrats’ backing to try to unseat Ros-Lehtinen, a beloved, socially liberal Republican who has been in Congress since 1989.
“I don’t have all the answers, but I think it’s time to try something new,” Fuhrman said Thursday in an interview with the Miami Herald.
Fuhrman, 34, of South Miami, speaks openly about numerous past brushes with the law. He has been registered without political-party affiliation in the past and plans to kick off his “unorthodox” candidacy with a web video Friday. He acknowledged his campaign will be “an uphill battle.”
Ros-Lehtinen, 63, isn’t considered a vulnerable political target, even after Congressional District 27, which stretches from North Bay Village to Cutler Bay, was redrawn to lean slightly Democratic. The nonpartisanCook Political Report, which analyzes congressional races, lists the seat as “solid” Republican, and the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report rates it “safe” Republican — even though the district voters favored President Barack Obama over Republican Mitt Romney by 7 percentage points in 2012.
Yet Democrats hope Trump might change the equation, if enough voters who oppose him also punish the rest of the Republicans on the ticket. South Florida already boasts one of the most competitive congressional races in the country: Freshman Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo is trying to fend off two Democrats in a Westchester-to-Key West district that leans even more Democratic than Ros-Lehtinen’s. Neither Curbelo nor Ros-Lehtinen, both in Hispanic-majority districts, plans to vote for Trump.