Replacing Ros-Lehtinen: Who’s in and who’s out (so far)

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Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s announcement Sunday that she won’t seek re-election means a congressional swing district that has essentially been locked up for three decades for the Republican Party will now be up for grabs.

No sooner had she announced her decision to retire than political insiders began to bandy about the names of future successors, and potential candidates began to express their interest.

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Steve Stivers quickly issued a statement Sunday promising to “keep this seat red in 2018.” But where Ros-Lehtinen won by 10 points, the district swayed heavily Democratic in the presidential race, and the DCCC issued its own statement Sunday declaring the post “all but guaranteed to be won by a Democrat.”

The recently redrawn district includes all or portions of Coral Gables, Cutler Bay, Key Biscayne, Miami, Miami Beach, Pinecrest, South Miami, and Westchester.

Here are some of the names you might see on the ballot:

IN

▪  Scott Fuhrman, a Democrat who ran against Ros-Lehtinen in November after District 27 was redrawn to lean Democratic and lost 45-55. Furhman has said he will run for the seat again in 2018.

▪  Kristen Rosen Gonzalez: A Miami Beach commissioner and Miami Dade College professor finishing her PhD on leadership in higher education administration at Barry University. A Democrat, she filed campaign papers this month.

▪  Michael A. Hepburn: A senior academic advisor for the School of Business at the University of Miami who lost a primary campaign against Daphne Campbell for the state House in 2014. He is a Democrat, and serves on the Allapattah Neighborhood Association and the Miami Dade Democratic Executive Committee.

▪  Mark Anthony Person, a Democrat, has filed to run with the state Division of Elections.

MAYBE

▪  Jose Felix Diaz: Already in the running to become South Florida’s top federal prosecutor and considering a run for Frank Artiles’ vacated Senate seat, the Republican State Representative from Miami isn’t ruling out a run for Ros-Lehtinen’s seat. “There are a lot of options out there right now. I have one week left in session after which I can sit down and see which, if any, of these opportunities would make sense for me and my family. Right now, I think today is about celebrating Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen and her decades of distinguished service.”

▪  Matt Haggman: A Democrat, former Miami Herald reporter and current Miami Program Director for The Knight Foundation, Haggman said Sunday that he’s considering a run for District 27. “It’s something I’ve been actively thinking about for a while now,” he said.

▪  Carlos López-Cantera: “Ileana is leaving big shoes to fill,” Florida’s Republican lieutenant governor said Sunday. “Her service to South Florida has been exceptional. I’m humbled by the outpouring of support that is already coming in. I’m going to spend the next few days discussing it with my family and go from there.”

▪  David Richardson: The Democratic state representative, a Democrat from Miami Beach, says he’s definitely thinking about a run. “Over the next few days I’ll be talking with constituents, friends and supporters on how I can continue to best serve and represent my community.”

▪ Ken Russell: The Democratic Miami District 2 Commissioner didn’t rule out a run when asked Sunday if he’s considering a campaign for Congress. “I have received calls urging me to run for Congress. I can only say that up to now I had not considered it, and that we should use this time to thank Ileana for her many years of service to her constituents.”

OUT

▪  Philip Levine: Miami Beach’s Democratic mayor, currently mulling a run for governor, said he’s “focused on traveling the state and talking with residents about the future of Florida.”

Miami Herald staff writers Patricia Mazzei and Amy Sherman contributed to this report.

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