Only one Republican woman will have served longer in the chamber than the Florida congresswoman at the end of this term
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s announcement that she would retire at the end of her term in January 2019 not only opens up a likely Democratic pick-up in Florida’s 27th Congressional District but also marks the end of one of the most impressive tenures among the nearly 300 women to serve in the nation’s lower legislative chamber.
Ros-Lehtinen carried her district by 9.8 points in 2016 – one cycle after Democrats did not even field a challenger against her. [Hillary Clinton carried the district over Donald Trump by 19.7 points last November].
It was the closest race the Miami-area GOPer had faced since she won her first term in a 1989 special election after the death of Democrat Claude Pepper – a 6.5 point win over Gerald Richman in what was then the state’s 18th CD.
All told, Ros-Lehtinen won 15 terms to the U.S. House and is the longest-serving woman from the South in the chamber’s history at 27 years, 8 months, and 4 days through May 2nd.
That is also currently good for 7th on the all-time tenure ranking for female U.S. Representatives. The Florida congresswoman trails only:
- Massachusetts Republican Edith Rogers (1925-1960): 35 years, 2 months, 12 days
- Ohio Democrat Marcy Kaptur (1983-present): 34 years, 4 months
- New York Democrat Louise Slaughter (1987-present): 30 years, 4 months
- California Democrat Nancy Pelosi (1987-present): 29 years, 11 months, 1 day
- Ohio Republican Frances Bolton (1940-1969): 28 years, 10 months, 8 days
- New York Democrat Nita Lowey (1989-present): 28 years, 4 months
Ros-Lehtinen will eclipse Bolton on July 7, 2018 to exit Capitol Hill with the second longest service for a Republican woman in the chamber’s history at 29 years, 4 months, 6 days.
In fact, of the 29 female U.S. Representatives who have served at least 20 years, only six are Republicans: Rogers (#1), Bolton (#5), Ros-Lehtinen (#7), Nancy Johnson of Connecticut (1983-2007, #17), Margaret Roukema of New Jersey (1981-2003, #24), and Kay Granger of Texas (1997-present, #25).
At 27+ years and counting, Ros-Lehtinen is the only female U.S. Representative from the South to serve more than 25 years.
Texas Democrat Eddie Bernice Johnson (24 years, 4 months) will eclipse that mark in early 2018.
Overall, 12 of the Top 15 longest serving female U.S. Representatives are currently in office – all but the aforementioned Edith Rogers (1925-1960), Frances Bolton (1940-1969), and New Jersey Democrat Mary Norton (1925-1951) who served for 25 years, 10 months.
Democrat Eleanor Norton of D.C. (26 years, 4 months) would also crack the Top 10 all-time service list for women in the U.S. House if delegates are included in the count.
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