WASHINGTON U.S. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a moderate Republican who has been critical of President Donald Trump, plans to retire when her term is up next year, according to an interview she gave on Sunday to the Miami Herald.
The decision by Ros-Lehtinen not to seek re-election could give Democrats a chance to pick up a seat in the 2018 congressional election. Her district has increasingly leaned Democratic, and Democrat Hillary Clinton, Trump’s opponent, won it by 20 percentage points in the 2016 presidential election.
Ros-Lehtinen, 64, declined to endorse Trump during the White House race and differed with him on issues such as immigration. She balked at supporting the proposed Obamacare replacement legislation that the president backed.
The veteran Republican congresswoman had fended off a challenge in 2016 from Democrat Scott Fuhrman. Fuhrman has said he plans to run again for the seat in 2018, when all of the members of the House of Representatives and one-third of the U.S. Senate will face re-election. Trump’s Republicans currently control both the House and Senate.
Ros-Lehtinen told the Miami Herald her decision did not stem from concern that she would not be re-elected.
“There was no epiphany,” she said. “There was no moment, nothing that has happened that I’ve said, ‘I’ve got to move on.'”
Ros-Lehtinen, who was born in Havana, became the first Cuban-American and the first Hispanic woman elected to Congress in 1989.
(Reporting by Caren Bohan; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)