Sunday, July 01, 2018

Blue Skies, Smilin' At Me!

Eileen Higgins, center
Photo Sam Navarro, Miami Herald

Democrats have won three consecutive special elections in Miami-Dade County (Florida duh) over the past nine months.

“The blue wave is not coming. The blue wave came,” said Jesse Manzano-Plaza, a veteran Republican political consultant who was reacting to the latest coup, the election of a Democratic woman in previously and dependably Republican Little Havana, to a county commission seat. 

Not only a Democrat but a non-Hispanic woman who jokingly referred to herself as "La Gringa."

Meet Eileen Higgins. She's a young 53, a well-off marketing executive who once worked for the State Department. But she famously likes to ride the bus. And she's fluent in Spanish.

"Ms. Higgins’s win cemented the belief held by Democrats — and, privately, by many Republicans" — that the 27th Congressional District, which includes all of Eileen Higgins’s county commission district, will likely also flip red-to-blue this November (Patricia Mazzei). The seat is currently held by Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Cuban-American who has publicly broken with Twitterman over immigration and called him "bully." She publicly opted six months into his presidency not to run for reelection. 

People speculate why. Not because she's afraid of Trump supporters. More likely she quickly took the pulse of her constituents -- who are majority registered Democrats after all, and who had good cause
Donna Shalala
being turned off by Trump, and who voted decisively for Hillary in 2016. Ros-Lehtinen saw the trend, the unpopularity of Trumpism in Little Havana, and stared at her inevitable defeat. Better to simply retire from the field. And pray a runaway golf cart takes out the president. 

Patricia Mazzei writes an interesting article about whether the win for Eileen Higgins also signals something deeper and more significant in the Cuban community -- that it's bindings to the national Republican Party have frayed and are giving way to something else. The Democrat considered a shoo-in for Ros-Lehtinen's seat is also non-Hispanic, Donna Shalala (yes, that Donna Shalala, the former Clinton administration health and human services secretary and more recently the president of the University of Miami). If (when) elected in November, she'll be at 77 probably the oldest person ever elected for the first time to the US House.

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