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Ileana Ros-Lehtinen praises possible Democratic replacement

Longtime Republican U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen may be ready to retire after her current term ends, but she’s still got plenty to say in a new interview with the Washington Blade, the oldest LGBT newspaper in the U.S.

She again spoke about one of her main sticking points with the Donald Trump administration: Its efforts to ban transgender people from serving in the military.

“We’re looking at Americans who want to sign up and serve our country,” she told the Blade. “It just doesn’t make any sense when we are still fighting in so many parts of the world.”

Ros-Lehtinen concluded, “We need patriotic, committed, able to serve individuals, whether they are male, female, transgender.”

It’s a position long-held by Ros-Lehtinen whose son, Rodrigo, is trans. But with the recent signing of President Trump’s newest version of the ban, Ros-Lehtinen felt the need to speak up once again.

“These are the bravest individuals, the most patriotic folks that we would want there.”

Ros-Lehtinen reiterated that she still does not support Trump after previously saying he would not get her vote in 2016.

However, Ros-Lehtinen remains a Republican and says she will support the Republican nominee for her seat in Florida’s 27th Congressional District. It remains to see who that will be, as a staggering nine people have filed to run on the Republican side.

Despite her promise to support the CD 27 Republican nominee, Ros-Lehtinen did praise one of the Democratic candidates in her interview with the Blade.

Ros-Lehtinen called current state Rep. David Richardson, one of Florida’s first openly gay state representatives, a “great guy.” She also told the Blade that Richardson is running “a great grassroots campaign.”

Saying something nice about a member of another political party shouldn’t be a big deal. But in this era of partisanship, it is noteworthy. Ros-Lehtinen has often joined the other side of the aisle to push for issues important to her.

One of those issues is gun reform. In light of February’s mass shooting in Parkland, Ros-Lehtinen reiterated the need for new gun control measures, saying, “I’m not throwing anybody under the bus. We just haven’t done enough.”

Ros-Lehtinen supports efforts to temporarily confiscate guns from people showing “red flags” of possible violence. Florida did offer some reforms following Parkland but the federal government wasn’t as reactive.

“Shame on all of us” for not doing more, Ros-Lehtinen said.

Ros-Lehtinen has served in Congress since 1989, but says it’s time to step aside. “Like the Bible says, to everything there is a season and this was the time to say ‘OK, let’s try something new,’ ” she told the Blade.

Both parties will pick their nominees to replace Ros-Lehtinen on Aug. 28, followed by the general election on Nov. 6.

Written By

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to

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